Dolemite (1975)


Over the years I have seen plenty of Blaxploitation flicks. My favorite are the ones starring Fred “The Hammer” Williamson. The films are often lots of fun and give a peak into a place and time unique to the films. Dolemite is a flick I’ve always wanted to check out but for multiple reasons I was never able to get a hold of a copy of it, until now.

Comedian Rudy Ray Moore got his start recording comedy bits in his house and producing the albums himself. He would then take his especially vulgar albums full of dirty jokes (with album art that always featured nudity) to the poor areas of major cities and play the record for people to hear. The records sold like hot cakes and the demand for his live performances became greater and greater. He toured the states selling records and performing live until he had enough money to take his infamous character Dolemite from his records and put him on the silver screen. He’s a pimp with a whole stable of ladies who would do anything for him. He gets framed by some dirty cops and sent up the river after they find a bunch of drugs in the trunk of his car. The madam of his stable fought long and hard to get someone to look at his case again and finally she gets a break. The warden has agreed to release Dolemite temporarily if he can bring down the dirty dudes that set him up otherwise it’s back into the clink or worse, death by dirty dude. Dolemite is up to the task though and he leaves prison to find the guys responsible and plans to karate chop their asses into justice.

This film is such a hoot! Rudy Ray Moore is obviously having a blast in this flick. Every line he spouts is full of passion and the dialogue is so cheesy and over the top I couldn’t help but love it. He gives Sam Jackson a run for his money every time Moore spouts “Mother Fucker!” which is a lot. Dude knows how to let that roll off his tongue just right. When he leaves prison, he ditches his cheap duds and puts on his proper pimp attire and climbs in the back of his limo surrounded by his ladies. Dude knows how to roll in style for sure. He’s stopped along the way by some nefarious dudes so he climbs out of the car and shoots them all with a machine gun. Rudy doesn’t take any shit. His fashion sense is so far over the top that it is an important part of the fun. He looks like the pimpiest pimp that ever pimped in this movie. He busts out his sloppy kung fu on any jerk that tries to mess with him. All the acting in the film is bad as is the editing, the cinematography, the fight scenes, pretty much everything in the film is amateur hour but that just makes it even more fun to watch. It’s rough and ragged and yet it lends a special charm to the movie. It reminds me of the skits on Madtv where they would make fun of bad Blaxploitation flicks. I always thought those were uncharitable as all the films I saw were all competently made. I believe they were directly riffing on Dolemite as everything seems to have been done poorly.

Moore was very disappointed with the film. The director had no faith in the project and the sloppy results are proof. He was embarrassed by the movie but since he had invested his own money to fund the entire project he knew he had to recoup his costs. Much to his (and everyone else’s) surprise the film was a hit in the theaters it played. Lines formed around the block to get in to see the film that promised action and a high level of vulgarity. The film ends up feeling like a very crude cartoon, and one that I got a big kick out of watching. The film strikes a rare balance of being very poorly made, so much so that it’s shortcomings are hilarious, and yet I was rooting for Dolemite the whole way through. In short, the flick is cheesy and lots of fun. What’s not to love?

This is my first Vinegar Syndrome release and I am very impressed with it. The film looks absolutely fantstic. There is no way this film will ever look any better than this. It’s been completely restored. The colors are fantastic and the print is in great shape. The blu came with some nice special features too including a great documentary about Rudy Ray Moore and how he came to make Dolemite. The doc ends after Dolemite was released and leaves you hanging with a “to be continued,” presumably it will be continued on the next Rudy Ray Moore film release by Vinegar Syndrome. The doc had me hooked and I honestly thought for a moment that i’d love to get the next release just to continue the story of Rudy Ray Moore. That’s pretty incredible that a special feature is strong enough not only to sell the release but to sell the NEXT release too. Fantastic. I can’t wait to get the next installment in the Rudy Ray Moore library.