Xenon Blaxploitation Classic Review: The Human Tornado

The Human Tornado

To describe Cliff Roquemore’s debut film as “outlandish” would be more than a mild understatement. Based on the adventures of  Rudy Ray Moore’s stand-up character Dolemite, the movie follows the eponymous 1975 film. Dolemite is ‘The Human Tornado’, himself a comedian and pimp, a tongue in cheek reaction to the blaxploitation leads of the early 70s – Super Fly and Sweet Sweetback.

The Human Tornado opens accordingly, with Dolemite’s uproarious comedy set managing to balance the mocking of black stereotypes with sharp, culturally appropriate observational comedy. The sequence is driven by an almost intense score of African drumming, as if a sarcastic nod to one of the first examples of blaxploitation tropes crossing over into mainstream cinema: 1973 Bond outing Live and Let Die. To celebrate the end of his successful comedy tour, Dolemite throws a party at his mansion, and who might happen to turn up but the sheriff’s wife. A white woman at a party of only black guests, she is quite realistically just looking to pay Dolemite to sleep with her. And of course he obliges. 

Driving the story forward, a noise complaint is made (by some white neighbours) about the party, and the police decide to head over. There are strange echoes of last year’s Detroit as they interrupt the proceedings, with the sheriff proclaiming: “Only shoot them if you have to”. There are important civil rights issues dotted throughout the film, deliberately accentuated to draw attention, only to be laughed off or brushed over. Of course, the sheriff discovers his wife in bed and shoots her, leaving Dolemite to go on the run to sunny California. 

What follows is perhaps one of the most madcap adventures ever to grace the big screen. The plot is about as focused as The Blues Brothers – Dolemite and his cohorts are constantly distracted from their mission, which incidentally is to rescue 2 dancers that have been kidnapped by a gangster. But they are slowed down by one too many poorly choreographed fight sequences, a few too many ridiculous characters, and far too many graphic sex scenes. One of which, quite literally, brings the house down. Tonally and structurally, the piece doesn’t really adhere to cinematic rules, becoming almost just a collection of absurd vignettes – a blaxploitation version of Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex. But with more sex.

The Human Tornado, as well as its predecessor Dolemite, could be a masterpiece, if it only knew how self aware it should be. The film steers away from Mel Brooks’ style outright fun poking, but of course has its fair share of send ups of the blaxploitation genre. But, like in Paul Verhoeven’s excellent Starship Troopers, there is a sense of respect for the style behind the obvious spoof gags. Sadly, Moore’s tongue isn’t quite as far into his cheek as Verhoeven’s, and perhaps that is why you might not realise the film is a spoof just from watching it. It feels like Moore and writer Jerry Jones were let loose to do absolutely whatever they wanted, and if Roquemore had reined them in a little, The Human Tornado might be more than just a niche cult classic.

We hope you're enjoying BRWC. You should check us out on our socal channels, subscribe to our newsletter, and tell your friends. BRWC is short for battleroyalewithcheese.

Trending on BRWC:


The Top 10 Documentaries Of 2018

By BRWC / 24th December 2018
Freaky Friday

Some Of The Best Movie Remakes

By BRWC / 23rd December 2018
"My Own Personal Brand Of Heroin": Twilight, 10 Years On

“My Own Personal Brand Of Heroin”: Twilight, 10 Years On

By Jack Ford / 19th December 2018
Nightshooters: Review

Nightshooters: Review

By BRWC / 26th December 2018
Failed Franchises: The Golden Compass

Failed Franchises: The Golden Compass

By Jack Ford / 30th December 2018

Dan will watch just about any film he can get his hands on. His ultimate goal is to see all of the films, but for now he's happy obsessing over anything with a brilliant script and/or well executed violence. Some of his favourite directors include Quentin Tarantino, Michael Haneke, Stanley Kubrick, Chan-wook Park, Christopher Nolan and Martin Scorsese.


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.