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Vinegar Syndrome takes an unexpected if quite welcome detour into blaxploitation with Rene Martinez Jr.’s Super Soul Brother. 001_1.1.1f

Originally entitled “The Six Thousand Dollar N* (you fill in the blanks)”, Martinez makes no bones about the fact that he’s knocking off the then-popularity of television’s Six Million Dollar Man, and probably making a sly nod to his own film’s entire budget in the process.  No beating around the bush here, this is a serious cheapie.  And lest you get the wrong impression here: I liked it.

“Did you see that girl who just came in?”
“I did.  Saw that big wide ass!”

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Two pimps (Benny Latimore and Lee Cross) are funding a scientific experiment.  Fat, balding midget Dr. Dippy (Peter Conrad) is trying to create a “superman”, which his seedy pair of backers have invested six grand into so they can use him to pull a jewelry store heist (!)  Only catch is, the mice tested died after a week.  So who could they possibly find wiling to take part as a human guinea pig?

“Aw, Don’t worry ’bout it, doc.  I’ll get a wino out of the ghetto.”

With that, Latimore heads out to the streets of Miami to pick up Wildman Steve Gallon, the sort of dice rollin’, jive shuckin’ no hoper who spends his days getting in fights over newspapers and toasting billboard ads for booze while sneaking nips from an omnipresent brown bag breakfast (, lunch and dinner, as a matter of fact).

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Plying the guy with his own fancy hotel room spread and personal maid (Addie Williams) allows for a bit where she’s offering the guy her body, but all he wants is rice and beans with barbecued chicken(!)  After a fine down home meal of Red Bull and the aforementioned, he wants “an ass washing”, just like his mama used to.

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His low rent humor and blunt come-ons seem to make him irresistible to the ladies, as he not only bags Williams, but after a quick change from slobby streetwear to a slick suit, the more upscale Peggy (Jocelyn Norris), who works with Dippy but appears unaware of the consequences of the experiment on her new beau.  But when Latimore and company try to pull a double cross, they discover that Luke Cage ain’t the only brother with bulletproof steel hard skin…

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Like a cross between Rudy Ray Moore’s Dolemite, Leroy & Skillet from Petey Wheatstraw and Grady from Sanford & Son, Gallon’s schtick hinges on street patois, a line in hardly credible sexual boasting (particularly given the dumpy middle aged physique he shares with each of the aforementioned likeminded comics)* and even a bit of semi-topical drug humor.  It’s likely to go over like a lead balloon with white audiences, at least those unaccustomed to the tropes of 70’s blaxploitation (fans thereof would likely be more familiar with and open to this sort of thing).

* more postmillenial audiences, think Steve Harvey, physically speaking.

Filled with appropriately funky music courtesy of a Saxton Kari, a pair of pretty female leads in Norris and Williams and now restored to vibrant color by Process Blue, the film comes with fairly consistent running damage of all stripe, but it’s hardly noticeable in the overall scheme of things.

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The bottom line is, this is a very, very low rent blaxploitation comedy.  Now, personally, I love this sort of thing, and was very happy to see this one show up in the mail the other day, but there’s no question this will not be for everyone.

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If you can picture a cross between Super Spook, Abar Black Superman and the Dolemite films with a nod to similar zero budget period street epics like Martinez’ own Guy From Harlem, Space is the Place, Deliver Us from Evil, Force Five, The Black Connection or even Herschell Gordon LewisBlack Love, you may be ready for Super Soul Brother.

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