Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Jim Brown rides again

Cleveland Press February 1, 1973

Jim Brown is at it again, shooting and slugging every enemy in sight. He gets off to a slower start this time, however, as a successful Los Angeles night club owner who gets his dander up only after his brother has been done in by the mob.

The picture opens with a messy stickup of a gangster- run betting parlor. The heist is handled by a group of black militants as a shortcut in fund-raising.

They not only get money, they get little black books as well. The books are pretty hot stuff, filled with all kinds of payoff information.

THE MOB STARTS muscling blacks and Brown's brother, the one with the books, gets knocked off. Naturally Brown has to hit the old revenge trail with police out to stop him and gangsters out to kill him.

"Black Gunn" is like most other black action films in its use of gutter vernacular, a high degree of violence and a smattering of sex.

It differs in an attempt at more complex plotting, which is only confusing rather than interesting, and in a slight change in philosophy. In the latter respect it finds the militants working in a tenuous relationship with the law.

THE HERO, who has broken the law considerably in his pursuit of revenge, may even have to answer for it, it is suggested. With bodies strewn all over and huge explosions that destroy everything in sight he may be charged with little more than reckless driving and inciting a riot, however.

Contemporary trappings aside, there are certain formula situations used that date back to the earliest westerns. The hero ventures alone into the enemy camp, is captured but not put to death immediately but tortured thus allowing an interval for the cavalry (black militants) to arrive.

THE SADISM is always practiced against the hero -- held down while being punched and kicked, banged on the head, cut up and even scorched with a welding torch.

The noisy, flaming, explosive climax more closely resembles a small scale atomic war than a gang fight.

The acting is the sort of routine thing you get in this kind of movie. Technically the picture suffers from a muddy soundtrack and some jumpy editing.