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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 8/25/99

The Films of Rudy Ray Moore on DVD

reviews by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits


1975 (1999) - Xenon Entertainment Group/Dimensions Pictures

Film Rating: C

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C-/C-/B+

Specs and Features:

90 mins, R, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, trailers for Dolemite, Shaolin Dolemite and The Legend Of Dolemite, lyrics to Shine And The Great Titanic and The Signifying Monkey (with access to the corresponding scenes in the film), 3 scenes from the documentary The Legend Of Dolemite, Rudy Ray Moore's bio, film-themed menu screens, scene access (24 chapters), languages: English (DD "Hi-Fi" mono), subtitles: none

Human Tornado

The Human Tornado (aka Dolemite II)
1976 (1999) - Xenon Entertainment Group/Dimensions Pictures

Film Rating: C-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C+/C-/B-

Specs and Features:

85 mins, R, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, original theatrical poster, theatrical trailers for Dolemite, The Human Tornado, Shaolin Dolemite and The Legend Of Dolemite, film-themed menu screens, scene access (24 chapters), languages: English (DD "Hi-Fi" mono), subtitles: none

Disco Godfather

Disco Godfather (aka Avenging Disco Godfather)
1979 (1999) - Xenon Entertainment Group/Dimensions Pictures

Film Rating: D

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C-/C-/B-

Specs and Features:

93 mins, R, full frame (1.33:1 aspect ratio), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, original theatrical poster, theatrical trailers for Dolemite, The Human Tornado, Shaolin Dolemite and Black Godfather, film-themed menu screens, scene access: (19 chapters), languages: English (DD "Hi-Fi" mono), subtitles: none

Rudy Ray Moore might not have reinvented cinema, but he is a pioneer when it comes to comedy. Moore peppered his bits with enough four-letter words and sexual innuendo (and not so innuendo) to make Richard Pryor and Redd Foxx blink. He found great success doing comedy party albums, and he also single-handedly shaped what would become hip-hop music, by performing rap before Grand Master Flash and The Sugar Hill Gang even bought a Dr. Seuss book. Moore's stand-up creation Dolemite, was quickly turned into a film character (and later an icon of "blaxpoitation" films), even though Dolemite more closely resembles the style of Bruce Lee films. Funded by Moore out of his own pocket (and helped by sales of his album Eat Out More Often), Dolemite's high-flying karate heroics, little-man-versus-big-man storylines, and bad dubbing work on many different levels, although none very high-brow.

Although originally laughed at for trying to make a film, Moore's creation proved to be a minor success, and even helped float the blaxpoitation bubble for a few more years, before it faded out in the late 1970s. Moore followed Dolemite with The Human Tornado, a sequel of sorts that did good business, but not as good as the original. Moore temporarily shucked off the Dolemite character, and played the seminal part of Goldie in Monkey Hustle, and then did one more film, Petey Wheatstraw: The Devil's Son-In-law, before blaxpoitation finally puttered out with the demise of urban theater houses. After that, Moore jumped head-first into the disco craze with his fifth and final film of the 70's, The Avenging Disco Godfather (now shortened to Disco Godfather), in which he coined the term, "Put your weight on it."

Today, Moore is still active in comedy, and is even getting involved in film once again. He's played supporting roles in a handful of films, including B.A.P.S. and Fakin' Da Funk, and he's recently completed a third Dolemite film: Shaolin Dolemite (filmed in China). Whatever Moore is doing, his fans are here to follow. Take a trip back down the blaxpoitation candy highway, as we look at three of Moore's films currently on DVD. Like us, I'm sure you look forward to more of Mr. Rudy Ray Moore -- at least the clothed Mr. Rudy Ray Moore. Some things are best not shared, and after you get a gander in The Human Tornado, you might just agree.


Dolemite is a nightclub owner accused of a crime he didn't commit. Framed and sent to prison for 8 years, Dolemite is eventually freed on one condition: he must help bring down the real bad guy, Willie Green. This isn't going to be easy, so with the help of his club manager, Queen Bee, and her girls, Dolemite will stop at nothing to bring the world down upon Willie Green's head. His first step is to take back his club, The Total Experience. Next, is to make sure his girls are prepared for battle, by having them trained as kung fu experts. And after that, he's free for some wild loving. Okay, so the summary is starting to degenerate a bit. It went from being somewhat believable, to being downright laughable. Let me tell you something right off: Dolemite is probably THE worst film ever made. The acting here is some of the worst acting captured on film. The writing is even worse than the acting. Wanna talk about production values? Here's a game to play when watching Dolemite - count the number of boom mics that inadvertently appear in the picture. It gets worse... and yet it gets better too. Dolemite may be the worst film ever made, but it's also endearing. As much bluster as Rudy Ray Moore has with the character he created as a comedy act, Dolemite is also, God help me, sweet. He cares about his world, his friends and the girls he works with. It's stupid, but fun. It's like MST3K, without having to watch the silhouettes.

You can tell Moore really wanted to do a good job. And Moore is a legend in his own right. He truly is the godfather of rap, having been cited as being one of the first performers to use rhyme to sell a story about urban environs, and using multiple swear words to get his point across. He may never be remembered for his contribution to film, but his comedy inspired a musical genre. Dolemite is worth seeing -- it's quite funny, and it's a good example to young filmmakers of what NOT to do with your small budget. As blaxpoitation goes, this is hardly Shaft or Foxy Brown - but it isn't supposed to be. Dolemite is its own thing, and definitely succeeds in being what it is. Dolemite is the best Dolemite movie ever made.

The DVD for Dolemite is simply okay. I could rip it to shreds, with its sub-par video and Dolby Digital "Hi-Fi" (hey - it says that on the case) mono soundtrack, but what's the point? I can't compare this to a Criterion release, and I'm not going to. The transfer does have some artifacting problems, but it's nothing that's going to keep you from enjoying it. The soundtrack is clear -- not fully rounded, but it does its job. Most of the film is shot during the day, and on bright pseudo-porn sets, so the images look somewhat respectable on DVD. The extras include a whole bunch of badly digitized trailers, snippets from a documentary about Rudy Ray Moore, and transcriptions of the rhymes, with links to the scenes they appear in in the film. The problem here, is that you aren't sent back to the "rhyme" menu when the scene is done, so it's more like another type of scene access than a true special feature. Still, this DVD is a plenty adequate way to see Dolemite -- a no big deal film, on a no big deal disc -- but still kinda fun for what it is.

The Human Tornado (aka Dolemite II)

In The Human Tornado, Dolemite is on the run from a redneck sheriff, who caught him in bed with his wife. Dolemite heads to California to visit Queen Bee and his girls. While there, he helps her club make some money, which pisses off a local Mafia-connected nightclub owner. The Mafia types kidnap some of Dolemite girls, and that just makes him mad, causing him to break out the mad kung fu skills. His love making/torture/interrogation of the Mafia guy's wife, is some of the best use of a false ceiling ever made (and it's a nice little nod to Bruce Lee too -- see if you can catch what I mean).

The Human Tornado is not quite as endearing as the original Dolemite. The production quality is a step up, but the film is also more self-conscious. On a positive note, Moore provides a couple of the theme songs that make Dolemite into an even bigger superhero. On the negative side, some of Dolemite's love-making scenes (especially with the workout with Miss Wonderful, and an extended bout with Hurricane Annie) are a little too laughable. Oh, well - we're talkin' 'bout Dolemite, so I'll hush my mouth.

Between Dolemite and Human Tornado, this is the better film transfer for DVD. It's not super, but looks pretty good. I should also add, for you Dolemite purists out there, this isn't the original theatrical cut of the film. This disc is identical with the most recent Xenon video transfer, and therefore is missing a few bits (that don't affect the story, but might annoy a few fans out there). I'm told that those scenes are: an opening comedy stand-up bit, an encounter with a fey driver, that gives our hero and his crew a ride (and asks for one in return), and of course the famous "sammich-eating scene," which I personally don't need to see (thanks to Mark for the run down on the missing scenes). The sound here is standard mono -- no big deal, but enough to hear what's going on. Extras are a bit more limited this time. Gone are the clips, but here we have the original poster, and a slew of trailers from other Rudy Ray Moore films. All in all, The Human Tornado is a worthy follow-up to the original Dolemite -- no better, but certainly not any worse. Plus, you have to dig a guy who can use aluminum foil as a bulletproof vest.

Disco Godfather (aka Avenging Disco Godfather)

The first thing you need to know going into this one is that this isn't a Dolemite film. It's not even close. Here Rudy Ray Moore plays Tucker Williams, a former cop turned Disco Godfather. He raps along with the disco beat, and his dancers entertain. It's a good deal, and pretty dated. When Tucker's nephew falls victim to angel dust, it's up to The Disco Godfather to go around the cops and deep underground, to thwart a very bad man's attempt at controlling America's youth. Of course, that is, if Tucker himself can shake the monster known as angel dust, when he is exposed to it and looses his mind.

Disco Godfather is a lesser entry in the Rudy Ray Moore cannon of films. It's not as fun as the other two on DVD, mostly because it's pretty preachy. Rudy's acting is pretty bad, the writing is just as bad, and the special effects are even worse. I'm not a very big fan of this one.

The DVD doesn't look nearly as good as the others. This is probably because the film has a whole lot of night shots and darkly lit scenes, which, given an original print of average quality, a so-so analog master tape, and MPEG-2 compression, translates to tons of artifacts. The sound does its job in a weak mono, and the extras include only the trailers, and a poster. There is, however, a trailer for a lost classic, The Black Godfather, which looks to be a killer blaxpoitation flick. But all the trailers are not so good looking, which is a pain. This is a DVD (and film) for only the purest of fans. Not everyone is going to enjoy it, but if dig R.R. Moore, you have to watch it at least once.

Todd Doogan
[email protected]


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