Michael Jai White and Arsenio Hall star in Black Dynamite, a largely comedic homage to ’70s-era filmmaking. Since its premiere at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, Black Dynamite has garnered rave reviews and has become one of the fall’s most anticipated releases. It’s not a remake or a re-imagining, but a whole new addition to the blaxploitation canon, with a soundtrack that rivals Shaft.

Why turn to blaxploitation for inspiration 30 years later?

“I love the ’70s,” says White. “I used to have these blaxploitation parties at my house where we’d really enjoy these films; it’s funny to look back on – once you have a distance. When I was a kid I had these posters of The Mack and Super Fly and stuff. As an adult I’m like, wait a minute, weren’t they pimps? That bears some looking into.

“The moral standpoint of the movie is from a pimp. So there’s a funny element, but there is also a very proud element. We were coming after the ’60s. It was politically charged at the time. We had these bigger than life heroes like Jim Brown and Fred Williamson, and it was the first time black people could see other black people in dominant roles. Everything else up until that time was subservient type of roles. It meant a lot, not only to black people but also white people, white kids.”

“Even right now,” adds Hall, “if you go into the valley in Los Angeles, every empty store becomes a Halloween store around this time of the year, and they sell Halloween stuff. You can go down the aisles and find a pimp costume for children, and you’ll see a little white child with a big red hat and red jacket; something about the flamboyance of inner city pimps is attractive to everyone.

“And the worst way to hide something from little white kids is to hide it in the ghetto, because they find it and they want it, whether it’s a tennis shoe or a pimp suit. There’s something about the images. My dad was a Baptist preacher. He wouldn’t let me see Shaft, but I snuck in to see Shaft, you know?”

“Those are the heroes,” says White. “Are they not really Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? Are they not? We have the heroes that fought for the poor. You’ve got your Dillingers and everything else, very much in the black community it was the same way. I thought it bore some looking into later on. As a kid, seeing somebody like Jim Brown and wanting to be like that, seeing these alpha males in my color, that was a huge thing. I love the ’70s. I think music was the best at that time. Films were best. And when you look at this garishness of this blaxploitation era, the outfits, the fashion, the hyper sexuality…”

But there is another element of the ’70s exploitation film that features prominently in Black Dynamite: kung fu. White holds several black belts as a martial artist, so it was a natural decision to include the fighting style.

“I’m borrowing from several different films,” explains White. “I’m kind of doing homage to Jim Kelly and Bruce Lee and the chop-socky movies of that time as well. And Byron Minns, whose playing Bullhorn, he’s doing homage to Rudy Ray Moore.”

Black Dynamite obviously has many influences, but is there any particular film in the blaxploitation canon that inspired the filmmakers more than any other?

“I tried to include the ethos of 95 percent of those movies,” says White, “but one movie I think I leaned heavily on, more than any other one, was Three the Hard Way. It had the black paranoia, the evil white man and at the time it had the three most dominant blaxploitation heroes in it: Jim Kelly, Jim Brown and Fred Williamson.”

Well, Black Dynamite is the new kid on the block. So, if you like action and laughs sprinkled with a handful of tender moments, then check this movie out. Can you dig it?

Black Dynamite releases in select theaters Oct. 16.