In the history of cinema there have been films that never really garnered the attention they deserved. Some were not distributed properly, some failed to reach the right audience, some were only publicized in their country of origin and never made it overseas, some just weren’t the kind of movies people wanted to see at the time they were made. Here I shall illuminate a few of these unknown masterpieces.
This film had a successful tour of the festival circuit, but never made it into mainstream theatres. Released in 2009, it is THE best 70’s homage film ever made. The film quality, the costumes, the sets, the deliberately visible boom mikes, and the continuity errors are all flawless reproductions of B movies from the the mid seventies. If a you didn’t know better, you would never be able to tell that it was only released a few years ago. Black Dynamite is a kung-fu blaxploitation film that pays tribute to such classics as Shaft, Black Belt Jones and Enter the Dragon. The dialogue is humorously terrible, some of the performances are perfectly awful, the breasts are nicely gratuitous, and the kung-fu scenes are pure 70’s camp. Writer/star Micheal Jai White put a lot of effort into creating a flawless reproduction of a bygone era of cinema, and the result is hilarious.
This film was slated for a big international release, but never made it to most places in North America. Admittedly the movie has one notable flaw; and that is that it attempted to cram all of the major plot points of a popular book series into one film. Trying to cover all the life and adventures of a sixteenth century mercenary into two and a half hours was perhaps not such a wise plan. The result was a somewhat disjointed story that sometimes seemed to jump from place to place too quickly. Had this been done as five or six films it would have been my favourite movie franchise ever. but unfortunately that did not come to be. However, the film does redeem itself in several ways; It has amazing cinematography of some beautiful locations in Spain, it features some of the best period costumes I’ve ever seen, the fencing scenes are almost flawless and, for those who have read the books, Viggo Mortensen’s portrayal of the protagonist is perfect. So, if you are in the mood for a swashbuckling costume drama, it is definitely worth a watch.
At first glance this film seems really silly, but do not be fooled by the cover picture of Ed Harris riding a motorcycle in Arthurian armour. (Actually I noticed that a more recent DVD release featured new artwork that looked more serious.) No, this is not a post-apocalyptic fantasy film about biker knights – it IS a surprisingly touching story about a group of travelling performers who put on a motor-jousting/renaissance fair show, and their leaders’ determined attempts to live an uncompromising life of virtue and knightly honour. What begins as an quaintly amusing premise actually turns out to be a serious explorations of how people try to find meaning in their lives in a world that demands the constant compromise of your dreams. It was written and directed by George A. Romero, of Dawn of the Dead fame, but was largely lost to the back shelves of history…