Monday, March 14, 2016

The Black Gestapo (1975)



          Unfortunately, this violent blaxploitation saga does not deliver the sharp analogy to Nazi Germany promised by its title and poster, because the paramilitary group at the center of the story is never show flexing political power. More specifically, the filmmakers provide so little context for group’s activities that it’s difficult to determine whether the group even has power. In the weirdly insular world of The Black Gestapo, uniformed gangs move freely throughout L.A. while carrying automatic weapons, organizing rallies, and roughing up victims. No explanation is given for how the paramilitary group came into being, so most viewers will spend the first third of the picture just trying to figure out what the hell is going on. Then, once the movie reaches a tedious middle stretch pitting the group against the Mafia, things get even more confusing—and even more gruesome. During the Mafia scenes, The Black Gestapo degrades to rape scenes and a harrowing vignette in which the film's villain castrates an enemy with a straight razor. Suffice to say that the film’s political perspective—if it even has one—is as messy as the crime scene following the castration. Actually, one could take the analogy even further by saying The Black Gestapo has no balls, since the movie ultimately becomes a simplistic revenge flick about a deposed leader seeking payback against a former subordinate.
          Anyway, the gist is that General Ahmed (Rod Perry) founded something called the People’s Army for unknown reasons, presumably to do with empowering oppressed African-Americans. Soldiers in the all-black People’s Army wear khaki uniforms and red berets as they function like vigilante do-gooders. Ahmed’s second-in-command, Colonel Kojah (Charlie Robinson), determines that more must be done, so he employs violence to intimidate enemies. Hewing to the old absolute-power-corrupts-absolutely line, Colonel Kojah transforms his squad into stormtroopers, switching to SS-style uniforms and seizing power from Ahmed. All of this trudges along somewhat incoherently until the film's final act, when Ahmed stages a one-man assault on Kojah’s compound. This last bit, which comprises about 25 minutes of screen time, is fairly exciting in a Charles Bronson sort of way; Ahmed uses fancy weapons, martial arts, and trickery to literally defeat an army before confronting Kojah for a hand-to-hand brawl. Although The Black Gestapo is clumsily filmed, with cheap production values and way too many quasi-fisheye shots, the movie provides a decent dose of brainless violence once the filmmakers cease their fruitless attempts at storytelling.

The Black Gestapo: FUNKY

2 comments:

William Blake Hall said...

My mind is blown -- Mac from the wacky TV show Night Court as Colonel Kojah.

Cindylover1969 said...

At the time, Rod Perry was best known for being on "S.W.A.T." I think he also had a cameo in the movie.