USA / 1988
Director and Writer: Keenan Ivory Wayans
Cast: Keenan Ivory Wayans, Bernie Casey, Isaac Hayes, Antonio Fargas, Steve James
“As a kid I watched all those blaxploitation, kung fu and wild action movies,” recalls Keenan Ivory Wayans, “films that tended to glorify violence. They provided me with a lot of unintentional laughs. These urban fantasies and their dubious heroes were just waiting to be undercut with deliberate humour, and once I’d seen the brilliant parody Airplane!, I knew I’d found a way.” Set in Any Ghetto USA, Wayans’ movie is a worthy successor to the Zucker brothers’ air disaster spoof, proving equally fast-paced, inspired and downright funny.
Wayans’ world is populated by black heroes of yore: original blaxploitation stars such as Isaac Hayes (Truck Turner), Bernie Casey (Cleopatra Jones), Antonio Fargas (Shaft) and Jim Brown (Slaughter) are all gathered for this riotous assembly. They’re all called in to help Jack Spade (Wayans) rid the city of evil white villain Mr Big (John Vernon), who’s been supplying the street with gold chains (which Jack’s brother Junebug (Bobby Mardis) overdosed on). Showing that they’ve lost none of their style, the 70s heroes start to break up Mr Big’s business. But when Mr Big fights back by kidnapping Jack’s sister-in-law Cheryl (Dawnn Lewis), Jack decides he’s got to settle things man to man. If he succeeds, he’ll become an official black hero – and be given his own signature tune.
It’s a sign of the impact blaxploitation made that, despite coming almost 15 years after the genre died out, you recognise so many of the gags in I’m Gonna Git You Sucka: the shot of Antonio Fargas walking down in the street in his outmoded pimps’ outfit is particularly hysterical. The Daily Telegraph called the film an “engaging spoof. Plenty of cinematic in-jokes and some splendied parodies of black stereotypes keep it bubbling merrily to the end”, while Variety praised the “impressive directorial debut for Keenan Ivory Wayans, who manages to capture the spirit of films like Shaft, The Mack and Three the Hard Way while he’s making fun of them”. Look out for a scene-stealing cameo by Chris Rock as a customer in a rib joint restaurant.