'Bad Black': Seattle International Film Festival movie review
Go see this film. That's not a suggestion - that's an imperative. Go see the utterly insane Ugandan micro-budget action flick "Bad Black" (screening at the 43rd Seattle International Film Festival starting May 20) - a film that is almost beyond explanation.
In short: Okay, so there's something about a crime boss named Bad Black who rules the streets of Kampala, Uganda. And an American doctor who learns martial arts from a child named Wesley Snipes. And there's a gang of kung-fu cops. Oh, and poo poo is everywhere.
Everything you need to know about the tone of "Bad Black" is presented within the first minute. Voice over from a guy named VJ Emmie enthusiastically welcomes the audience to another production from Ramon Film Productions, which the VJ proclaims is home of the "Best of Da Best Movies." The first character introduced is named Swaaz - which the VJ explains "Swaaz means Schwarzenegger." What follows is a total Ugandan original: a hugely entertaining action flick big on action and big on laughs.
This movie was produced on a microbudget - and it shows. The special effects are terrible - like really terrible. Just about any high school student in America can create more realistic special effects on their school computer. The movie looks like it was shot using your grandfather's camcorder. It would almost be harder for any major studio to try to make a movie that looks as dated and unprofessional as "Bad Black."
Even though the filmmakers may not have the most current cameras or computers (or even equipment from the 21st century), the team behind "Bad Black" has something that cannot be bought: a true passion for filmmaking. Every frame of this hilarious and entertaining action flick was clearly assembled by people who really love movies. And their love of film comes through in every shot and scene of "Bad Black." This film is so much fun because it's infused with an undeniable joy and a genuine love for the old '80s style action movies.
Films like "Manos: The Hands of Fate" or "The Room" are cult "classics" that fall into the "so bad they are good" category. But the audiences laugh at those films because they were cobbled together by people who didn't have a clue about movies. It's unfair to lump "Bad Black" in with those genuinely terrible movies.
At no point is the audience laughing at "Bad Black" - the audience is always laughing with the filmmakers. Even when the film gets super crazy, "Bad Black" has a secret weapon: VJ Emmie. Apparently a VJ is a staple in Ugandan films (where not everyone speaks or reads English), where the VJ provides insane voice over explaining what is happening on screen. The VJ is some hybrid of a hype man combined with "Mystery Science Theater 3000" - the VJ pumps up the movie, while also ribbing the very same film (letting the audience know they are in on the joke).
Final verdict: The world needs more Wakaliwood films. "Bad Black" is a hugely entertaining theatrical experience that is unlike any other film you've ever seen. Oh, and American films need to add VJs - because VJ Emmie is awesome. This is a film that must be seen to be believed.
"Bad Black" screens at SIFF 2017. This Ugandan film is unrated and has a running time of 68 minutes.