“He’s got a plan that makes him king of boogie-land.” Or so we’re told about protagonist Fass Black in the title song of Disco 9000. Sometimes marketed under the title Fass Black, this tedious blaxploitation flick explores the life of an entrepreneur who owns a successful discotheque on the Sunset Strip, as well as a record label that pumps out a steady stream of dancefloor hits. The anemic plot has a crime hook, because out-of-town gangsters try to muscle into the LA market by intimidating Fass into playing records from mob-owned labels at his club, the top influencer in the SoCal disco scene. Meanwhile, Fass juggles relationships with his wife, his mistress, and various other women. Yes, it’s another spin on the “black kingpin” trope so common to blaxploitation flicks, and neither director D’Urville Martin (better known as an actor) nor writer Roland S. Jefferson M.D. (whose medical credential appears onscreen) generates much heat. The narrative is plodding and predictable, with large chunks of screen time devoted to unimaginatively filmed dance performances. Worse, the only character with any flair is Fass’ pugnacious sidekick, Midget (played by famed dancer Harold Nicholas). Considering the colorful milieu of a nightclub, D’Urville’s lack of cinematic dynamism is galling. Viewers are shown the same drab cutaways of neon lights again and again, and the soundtrack is just as repetitive—after watching Disco 9000, you’ll need a long reprieve from hearing Johnnie Taylor’s slinky hit “Disco Lady,” which is featured way too many times. Oh, and there’s a reason why leading man John Poole’s career never caught fire after he played Fass Black. “Bland” is too generous a word for describing his screen presence. He delivers a performance as stiff and unoriginal as the movie surrounding him.
Disco 9000: LAME