BLACK BELT JONES (director: Robert Clouse; screenwriters: Oscar Williams/story by Fred Weintraub & Alex Rose; cinematographer: Kent Wakeford; editor: Michael Kahn ; music: Luchi De Jesus; cast: Jim Kelly (Black Belt Jones), Scatman Crothers (Papa Byrd), Malik Carter (Pinky), Gloria Hendry (Sydney), Eddie Smith (Oscar), Eric Laneuville (Quincy), Andre Phillipe (Don Steffano), Esther Sutherland (Lucy), Mel Novak (Blue Eyes), Alan Weeks (Toppy), Vincent Barbi (Big Tuna), Alex Brown (Plummer); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Paul Heller/Fred Weintraub; Warner Brothers; 1974)
“Standard issue street karate film designated for the youth market in the inner city.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Standard issue street karate film designated for the youth market in the inner city. Director Robert Clouse(“The Pack”/”Force Five”/”Darker Than Amber”) exploits Bruce Lee’s last film Enter the Dragon (1973), also directed by Clouse and with Jim Kelly, with this much weaker one that is set in LA. The story is by Fred Weintraub and Alex Rose. The screenplay is credited to Oscar Williams.
Pop Byrd (Scatman Crothers) runs a downtown karate school in a gym where real estate developers plan on taking over. When the Mafia joins with developers in the land-grab and use force to buy the gym, Byrd is threatened by goons to sell or else. When the enforcers accidentally kill the old-timer his martial arts students, led by Black belt Jones (Jim Kelly), a kung-fu champion, help pop’s daughter Sydney (Gloria Hendry), also a kung-fu fighter, hold onto the business despite the black mobsters led by Pinky (Malik Carter) and his Mafia boss (Andre Phillipe) trying to give them the heave-ho.
The fights were uninteresting and rote-like, but finely coordinated by Bob Wall. If that’s your thing and you can put up with the cheesy awkward story that goes with it and the piss poor acting, then be my guest.
REVIEWED ON 6/19/2015 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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