Inside Pulse 12

Blu-ray Review: The Human Tornado

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There’s a popular sticker you might find on a lightpole that reads “Dolemite don’t need no posse.” It is true that he shouldn’t need a posse since Dolemite (Rudy Ray Moore) is one man that can take out an army with mad kung fu skills and pleasure any woman with his loving thrills. But he had a posse in The Human Tornado that featured a man who a decade later would be known simply as the Black Ghostbuster. A young and bald Ernie Hudson and others had Dolemite’s back in the sequel that went beyond the original in action, comedy and outrageous fun.

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Dolemite is a bit of a different character in his return to the silver screen. In the original he was a pimp who had been sprung from prison to work on a secret government mission. Now he’s a major nightclub performer. The movie starts off with a taste of what it was like to be in a Los Angeles club taking in his show. Besides jokes, Dolemite is a bit of a Don Rickles as he gives the business to those who dared to sit up close to the action in the splash zone. He also has a band and dancers to keep the crowd entertained between punchlines. Dolemite is in complete control of the audience as they howl with every word and rhyme. He’s a major success. The comic’’s so rich that when he decides he’s outgrown his mansion in the country, he has friends over to announce he’s donating the property for a place for troubled youth to orient themselves. He was the forefather of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in his giving spirit. In the middle of this great charitable moment, Dolemite still has a little bit of business to conduct. While in Dolemite, he was a pimp, Dolemite lets it be known money can also purchase his magnificent carnal services.

Dolemite proves he’s worth the dough as he drives the woman wild in the sack. Outside the Dolemite Mansion, things aren’t as nice and wonderful. White people driving down the street are shocked at seeing black people in their neighborhood. They tip off the local sheriff who is a major racist. He puts together a posse to raid and shutdown the charity event at the Dolemite estate. This ugliness escalates even faster when the sheriff realizes his connection to the woman who paid for the loving skills of Dolemite. He dishes out extreme justice and blames his action on a fleeing Dolemite. The only reason why Dolemite isn’t being buried in a shallow grave is a death defying naked leap to safety down a cliff. This stunt is so amazing, Dolemite rewinds the film to give fans a second view. His men including Ernie Hudson are ready with a car to drive him to what he thinks is the safety of Los Angeles.

While he’s been enjoying the country life, Queen Bee (Lady Reed) ha’s become a victim of her nightclub’s success. The mafia is upset that her club is doing so well so they beat her up, kidnap two of her girls and take control of the property. Dolemite is ready to kick Italian ass and remind us why his film’s better than The Godfather Part II. But life gets complicated when the racist sheriff shows up in town and gets the local law enforcement to track down Dolemite for him. Detective Pistol Pete (screenwriter Jerry Jones) gets dragged into the case without knowing that Dolemite is truly an innocent man (for this crime). Everything is coming to a head including a face off with karate champion Howard Jackson.

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The Human Tornado truly cranks up all the elements that made Dolemite a cinematic joy. The arrival of new director Cliff Roquemore adds to the production. Cliff’s background in the theater translates to Dolemite break down the fourth wall as he addresses the crowd and remind them that they’re watching a movie. The karate gets played for laughs as the fights are sped up which makes them nearly normal speed. There’s more of an emphasis on Dolemite’s nightclub act which makes sense since the film was a great way to promote why you need to experience Rudy Ray Moore live. A lot of familiar faces return for the sequel which gives them a chance to show how they’ve matured in their ability thespian abilities. The movie lets us know that Dolemite means business. He wasn’t a one shot character. Rudy Ray Moore was committed to independent filmmaking like Orson Welles and John Cassavetes by not merely funding projects with other gig, but by assembling talent on both sides of the camera to make his films. Don’t believe the sticker. A lot of people were part of Dolemite’s posse.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. Because The Human Tornado was shot over a long period of time, there were several cinematographers so the look varies a little between scenes. The 1080p transfer from 2k from 35mm vault elements looks better than the film did back in 1976. The audio is DTS-HD MA mono. You will get to hear Dolemite’s quips and kicks cleanly. The movie is subtitled.

I, Dolemite Part II (17:45) features plenty of people including vintage footage of Rudy Ray Moore explaining how the project came about after the success of Dolemite. The nice surprise is Ernie Hudson appearing in a fresh interview. He’s grateful that Rudy Ray Moore gave him this early acting gig. He admits that his brother had to double for him in several scenes so he could perform in a different project. You can tell them apart because his brother refused to shave his head and merely wore a lame skullcap. The most amazing tale is how long before this production, Cliff Roquemore was in a line waiting with Moe Howard of the Three Stooges. During their chat, Moe told Cliff that he needed to work with Rudy Ray Moore. Not sure how the Ringleader of the Stooges knew about Rudy, but it would have been cool to witness two cinematic comic legends backstage.

Commentary track with Rudy Ray Moore’s biographer, Mark Jason Murray and co-star Jimmy Lynch is very informative since Murray’s been gathering stories for years and Lynch did so much with Rudy Ray Moore. Murray points out that Human Tornado outgrossed Dolemite.

Audio interviewwith director Cliff Roquemore and martial arts champion Howard Jackson fills in since both the director and the karate superstar had passed away.

“Der Bastard” is the German dubbed version. This is the most amazing bonus feature. You have not experienced the comedy of Rudy Ray Moore until you hear from his lips speaking German. This ought to be viewed with your pals from Berlin.

Promotional still gallery (2:26) covers the ’76 ad campaign for this comic masterpiece. Also included is the German VHS box.

Soundtrack is the music tracks as originally released on vinyl. You can just play the love themes while cleaning up around the house.

Radio spot (1:03) reminds you to see it with permission of your jailer.

Trailers are provided for The Human Tornado (2:45) and Dolemite (2:56). They are as thrilling as the movies.

Vinegar Syndrome presents The Human Tornado. Directed by Cliff Roquemore. Script by: Jerry Jones & Rudy Ray Moore. Starring: Rudy Ray Moore, Ernie Hudson, Lady Reed, Jerry Jones. Rated: R. Running Time: 96 minutes. Released: May 31, 2016.

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