Black Belt Jones
Black Belt Jones is a 1974 American blaxploitation martial arts film directed by Robert Clouse and starring Jim Kelly and Gloria Hendry. The film is a spiritual successor to Clouse's prior film Enter the Dragon, in which Kelly had a supporting role. Here, Kelly features in his first starring role as the eponymous character; is a local hero who fights the Mafia and a local drug dealer threatening his friend’s dojo.
|Black Belt Jones|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Clouse|
|Produced by||Paul Heller|
|Screenplay by||Oscar Williams|
|Story by||Fred Weintraub|
|Music by||Luchi DeJesus|
|Cinematography||Kent L. Wakeford|
|Edited by||Michael Kahn|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
The Mafia have learned of the construction of a new civic center, and have bought up all the land at the intended building site except for a karate dojo owned by Pop Byrd (Scatman Crothers), who refuses to give up his property. The Don contacts an indebted drug dealer named Pinky, who had laundered $250,000 from the Mafia that he'd subsequently loaned to Pop Byrd in-order to get the dojo built. The Don orders Pinky to either get his money back or reposes the property. Black Belt Jones (Jim Kelly), an expert martial artist and hand-for-hire, is contacted by his old friend Pop to help protect the dojo. Though Pinky intends to offer Pop to trade the building in exchange for clearing their mutual debt to the Don, he accidentally kills him during an intimidation attempt. Before he dies, Pop tells Pinky that he couldn't give them the building even if he wanted to, as it belongs not to him but his daughter Sydney. Pinky sends thugs to the dojo to try and intimidate the other employees. Though he was unable to protect his friend, Jones and the other students effortlessly fend off the thugs.
Sydney (Gloria Hendry) returns home upon hearing of her father's sudden death. She's told about his debt to the Mafia, but refuses to sell the building, instead seeking vengeance on those responsible for her father's death.. Sydney approaches Pinky’s men and ends up in a brawl, managing to overcome them due to her own martial arts training. As retaliation, Pinky kidnaps one of the students, Quincy (Eric Laneuville) and demands for them to turn over the school or give him the money. Jones and Sydney, with support from the police department, rob the Mafia and proceed to give it to Pinky, framing him for the heist. They rescue Quincy, and Pinky proceeds to send his henchmen after Jones, who has to take them on all at once. Jones and his allies manage to subdue them, and they are subsequently arrested.
- Jim Kelly as Black Belt Jones
- Gloria Hendry as Sydney
- Scatman Crothers as Pop Byrd
- Eric Laneuville as Quincy
- Alan Weeks as Toppy
- Andre Philippe as Don Steffano
- Vincent Barbi as Big Tuna
- Mel Novak as Blue Eyes
- Malik Carter as Pinky
- Eddie Smith as Oscar
- Earl Jolly Brown as Jelly
- Jac Emil as "Marv the Butcher"
- Earl Maynard as Bogart
- Marla Gibbs as Betty
- Ted Lange as Militant
- Clarence Barnes as Tango
- Esther Sutherland as Lucy
- Nate Esformes as Roberts
In 1973, Cleopatra Jones connected martial arts in Blaxploitation, with a strong Black female lead, skillfully trained in karate.
As a teenager born in Millersburg, Kentucky and raised in Paris, Kentucky Jim Kelly grew up as an all-around athlete, and had a chance to become a professional football player. He gained his fame in the martial arts community through the 1971 Ed Parkers Internationals. After completing Enter the Dragon, he immediately signed a three film deal with Warner Bros. Black Belt Jones was filmed soon after. Kelly is still arguably most known for his role in Enter the Dragon.
The movie received a mixed to negative reception. Some reviewers critiqued Kelly for trying to be too much like Bruce Lee, and thought the acting was only fair. Yet it still gained a cult film status later on.
The film was followed by a sequel, Hot Potato.
- Cha-Jua, Sundiata K (2008). "Black Audiences, Blaxploitation and Kung Fu Films, and Challenges to White Celluloid Masculinity". University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: 199–223.
- Clary, David (May 1992). Black Belt Magazine. Active Interest Media, Inc. pp. 18–21.
- Weiler, A. H. (1974-01-29). "Movie Review - Black Belt Jones - Screen: Kick-and-Slash:' Black Belt Jones' Is Played by Jim Kelly The Cast ' Black Belt Jones' Is Played by Jim Kelly". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
- "Black Belt Jones". Variety. 1973-12-31. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
- Jamilkowski, Bruce (June 1974). Black Belt Magazine. Active Interest Media, Inc. pp. 81–82.
- "Jim Kelly: Martial Artist and Co-Star of the Bruce Lee Movie Enter the Dragon — A Vintage Interview – - Black Belt".
- Clouse, Robert (1974-03-29), Black Belt Jones, Jim Kelly, Gloria Hendry, Scatman Crothers, retrieved 2017-12-07