Review: Black Belt Jones (1974)

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Review by Monkey Fist

SCUM Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Black Belt Jones’ definitely not Academy-Award winning material, but no matter how zany it gets it’s one hell of a ride and entertaining! Let’s face it this b-grade exploitation flick was deliberately designed to cash in on both the mid-70s blaxploitation boom and the success of Bruce Lee’s martial arts classic ‘Enter The Dragon’. The plot is pretty basic: martial arts school fights from being taken over, master gets killed in the process, and the leading character must avenge the master! Think Bruce Lee’s ‘Fist of Fury’ but with 70s soul & attitude.

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Jones (Jim Kelly) teams up with master’s estranged daughter Sydney (Gloria Hendry of ‘Black Caesar’ and ‘Savage Sisters’), also a fighter, and his posse to avenge his death. Frankly, Jim Kelly does pull off some slick fighting moves but whilst doing so, emits one of the funniest kiai I’ve ever heard! It sounds like a distorted version of Bruce Lee’s voice going on a backward loop! The rest of the cast includes Eric Laneuville (‘The Omega Man’), Earl Brown (Whisper from ‘Live And Let Die’), and even Isaac the bartender from ‘The Love Boat’ as a Black Panther! On the whole this may not be as gritty as other blaxploitation classics like Coffy but it’s still enjoyable. The soundtrack alone is reason enough to check this gem out. In my opinion, Black Belt Jones is mandatory viewing for all 1970s trash/blaxploitation buffs!

R.I.P  Jim Kelly.

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About The Author

Monkey Fist’s fascination with film began in the late ‘70s when he was first introduced to B-classics such as 'The Car', 'Konga' and 'The Incredible Melting Man'. Life might have been very different if he had heeded his mom’s advice to read Enid Blyton novels instead. Seriously, he’s just glad he didn’t! Instead, a lot of time was spent checking out the latest flicks in local theaters or getting updates from the 'Movie News' mag. It wasn’t long before he delved into Japanese anime and Tokusatsu gems like Voltron, Gatchaman and Kamen Rider. Today, he continues exploring and collecting classics from the reel world!

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