The Film (4/5)
You can't get more cinematically badass than Dolemite.
Dolemite stars Moore as the titular character who as the film begins is in prison for selling stolen furs amongst other things. Before his prison term he owned a club called "The Total Experience" which has since been taken over by his arch nemesis Willie Green who has driven his old neighborhood into the ground. Dolemite, with the assistance of Queen Bee is freed from jail with the understanding that he is supposed to help clean up the neighborhood, and help get Willie behind bars. To assist him are his girls who Queen Bee put through Karate School while he was in jail.
OK, so Dolemite is essentially the Rudy Ray Moore show. The film has the most threadbare of narratives, and using it Moore and director D'Urville Martin (who plays Willie Green) put together a pastiche of elements that simultaneously pay homage to and satirize the blaxploitation genre as it was during this period. The film has the requisite amounts of sex and violence, including awesome gun and kung fu battles that are sure to please fans of the genre. We even get Moore performing his stand up routine at "The Total Experience" some viewers might choose to see this as the film slowing down it's established pacing to allow Moore to take the spotlight, but honestly it sort of fits in with the anything goes vibe of the film.
Dolemite is a cult film for a reason, it is the sort of film where anything can and does happen. Yeah, the pacing is a bit off, and the editing is questionably done, but even though it feels at times like it's held together by old bubblegum, it is too much fun for a cult audience to not enjoy thoroughly.
Xenon has owned Rudy Ray Moore's output for so long, that I can't even recall if they ever didn't distribute his films on home video. I never liked the results, but they sort of fit the grimy grindhouse aesthetic of the film. That being said I am never one to complain about a gorgeous top down restoration of a film and those fine folks at Vinegar Syndrome have given us just that. I am not going to use the cliché that Dolemite looks like a new film, because it certainly looks like a slice of 70's blaxploitation fare, but it looks incredible, better than it's ever looked, and probably better than it's ever going to look. This one release has me excited about what Vinegar Syndrome has in store for the rest of the Xenon catalog, including the rest of Moore's films which will see release throughout 2016. The Blu-ray has a 1:85:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer. The film has a very natural organic look to it, colors are stable, flesh tones are accurate, and detail is excellent throughout.
The audio is presented with a DTS-HD MA track in English. The track is quite good with dialogue and score coming through nicely. I did not detect any issues with the track. Optional English subtitles are included.
Vinegar Syndrome have put together a very nice slate of extras for their release of Dolemite. The Blu-ray has a commentary track by Mark Jason Murray who wrote Moore's biography. It also contains a very interesting full frame version of the film that exposes equipment and crew (was this actually released on home video prior?), we get a locations then and now piece, an interview with Dolemite co-star Lady Reed, and the theatrical trailer in HD.
Though there is significant competition for the title Dolemite may be one of the finest blaxpolitation films of the 70's. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, and makes me look forward to what VS has in store for the rest of Moore's films. There is a nice slate of extras sure to please Dolemite fans, and honestly I'd be insane if I didn't HIGHLY RECOMMEND this one.