Dolemite [1975]

Who's the baddest motherf****r to blow onto blaxploitation screens? Forget Shaft and just ask X-rated comic and "godfather of rap" Rudy Ray Moore. He'll give you the gospel of Dolemite. Street hustler, pimp, and all-around ghetto superhero Dolemite began life as a character in Moore's nightclub act and was a natural character for his self-financed film debut, a revenge tale set on the corrupt streets of L.A.Dolemite is sprung from prison by an impossibly understanding warden so he can find the drug-dealing, gun-smuggling crooks who framed him. With the help of his all-girl army of kung fu killers and the most flamboyant wardrobe this side of Cher, he lays waste to dozens of bad guys while spouting his funky raps. Thick, slow and sleepy, Moore is neither a natural actor not a convincing martial arts action hero, but his lazy line deliveries are great, lyrical cascades of four-letter words and "ghetto expressions," and he performs two of his most famous stand-up raps, "Shine and the Great Titanic" and "The Signifying Monkey."Dolemite is not a particularly competent movie--the direction (by costar D'Urville Martin) is clumsy, the performances flat, and microphones peek in from time to time (get that video letterboxed, Xenon!)--but the outrageous mix of nightclub rap, kung-fu action, and Moore's four-letter dialogue turned it into an instant urban hit and has kept it alive as a cult classic. Dolemite returns in The Human Tornado. The DVD also features clips from the documentary The Legend of Dolemite and the complete lyrics to his raps. --Sean Axmaker

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