Willie Dynamite (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review + Screenshots

Studio: Arrow Video

Release Date: January 23rd, 1974 (theatrical) / January 8th, 2019 (blu-ray)

Run Time: 102 mins

Region Code: A

Picture: 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio)

Sound: English 2.0 LPCM

Subtitles: English SDH

Slipcover: No

Digital Copy: No

Starring: Roscoe Orman, Diana Sands, Thalmus Rasulala

Written by Ron Cutler

Directed by Gilbert Moses

Rating: R (language, violence, sexual content, and some drug use)


THE FILM 

Who is Willie Dynamite? He s the flashiest pimp in New York he drives a personalized purple-and-gold Cadillac and wears some of the most eye-catching outfits ever seen on a cinema screen. He wants to be number one, but with the police, the D.A., fellow pimps and a tough-talking social worker on his tail, can a man as arrogant and amoral as Willie D avoid a downfall?

Willie Dynamite is a Blaxploitation film like I have never seen before. Sure, it has the pimps, the cops trying to bust the pimps, the “bitches”, it has everything that you would think of when you think of Blaxploitation, but this film has a realism to it. The film is outrageous in the way that pimp culture is presented, but it takes a kind of dark look at what it is like to be a pimp or a prostitute. The pimp culture is presented in this kind of bigger than life aspect with the way that the lead dresses to the way the “bitches” get their marks. Then there is the social worker who wants Willie Dynamite to change his ways. This social worker goes to the end’s of the earth to help out one of Willie’s “bitches”. This storyline takes the forefront for a big majority of the film and its ramifications are widespread. Willie has his car towed a few times, his bank accounts frozen, and is arrested many times throughout the film. I liked the direction the film went and it kept my attention. All of the Blaxploitation films that I have seen thus far have been either Pam Grier films or films that glorify pimps and other criminal activities. They all play out as kind of cartoons instead of being realistic portrayals of crime. While this isn’t Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song levels of realism (I know that film isn’t that real, but it is kind of the standard when it comes to films like this), but it is more realistic. Willie Dynamite is more grounded than those films and it helps the film stand out in a crowd. This film isn’t as good as Foxy Brown or Coffy, but it is a well-made film that needs more attention.


THE PICTURE AND THE SOUND

Presented in the film’s original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, Willie Dynamite looks really good on blu-ray. As with most Arrow Video releases, there is a nice layer of grain that leads to some impressive amounts of detail while reminding us that we are watching something that was shot on film. Colors are outstanding here with Willie’s wardrobe standing out. Skin tones are also excellent.

The 2.0 LPCM track lends itself well to this film. Dialogue is crisp and clean while the film’s soundtrack sounds great.


THE PACKAGING

I was sent a check disc for Willie Dynamite and therefore I can not review the packaging. I can say that there will reversible artwork as well as a booklet with a new essay about the film.


THE FEATURES

Audio Commentary by Sergio Sims This is a pretty decent track that covers some of the history of the Blaxploitation genre, why the film was not a hit at the box office and Sims’ views on the genre itself.

Theatrical Trailer (2m 5s, HD)

I am a little disappointed that we, in the States, didn’t get the Blaxploitation doc that was found on the U.K. blu-ray of Willie Dynamite. It was listed in on the sell sheet that I got with this disc, but it is not on the disc. It is a shame because the U.K. has been around for a while now and I am not sure why it isn’t here, especially if Arrow had the doc made for the Willie Dynamite release. I guess that I will have to buy the U.K. disc if I want to see that doc. The commentary track found on this disc is exclusive to this release so I guess it is a kind of fair trade.


OVERALL

I liked Willie Dynamite. It is different than what I was expecting, but that isn’t a bad thing. I liked the direction the film took and I thought that the acting was pretty solid. The costuming here is phenomenal and is sadly overlooked, just like the film. The blu-ray is really cool and would be a great addition to any Blaxploitation fans’ library.

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