Sunday, August 28, 2016

Black Heat (1976)

Even given the low expectations I have whenever encountering an Al Adamson film, Black Heat was a serious letdown, inasmuch as I feel asleep the first three times I tried to watch the thing. And while that remark could probably suffice as a review, I’ll soldier through a few lines in the same way I eventually soldiered through the movie. As the title suggests, Black Heat is a cop movie in the blaxploitation mode. Las Vegas detective “Kicks” Carter (Timothy Brown) works two cases at once, helping women escape indentured servitude as hookers while also tracking gunrunners who are trying to smuggle weapons to revolutionaries in Central America. Neither of these cases results in much onscreen excitement, and they don’t mesh together well, so Black Heat has a herky-jerky narrative rhythm that’s as annoying as the picture’s leaden pacing. One boring thing happens after another, with little in the way of transitions in between, so only the presence of Brown in most scenes gives the impression that all the pieces belong to the same puzzle. Making matters worse are Adamson’s characteristic descents into sleaze, such as a long gang-rape scene and a leering girl-on-girl vignette. As for the leading man, Brown is spectacularly uninteresting to watch, seeing as how he was something of a renaissance man offscreen; the former NFL player dabbled in singing and dancing as well as acting. About the only kind thing I can say about Black Heat—sometimes known as The Murder Gang—is that it’s photographed better than the usual Adamson fare, with many nighttime scenes benefitting from proper backlighting. But when the most compelling thing about a shot is the use of secondary illumination to separate figures from dark backgrounds—well, that pretty much says it all.

Black Heat: LAME

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