Have you ever sat back and thought, ‘Self, you know what would be awesome? If someone made a movie that was like the Magnificent Seven meets Easy Rider but staring famous black football players from the 1970’s. That would be awesome.”
Well, you can stop talking to yourself now because that happened and it was called The Black Six. In case you’re part of the majority of Americans who haven’t seen this movie, the plot revolves around six bikers, played by Gene Washington (49ers), Joe Greene (Steelers), Mercury Morris (Dolphins), Lem Barney ( Lions), Willie Lanier (Chiefs), and Carl Eller (Vikings), who ride around the country righting wrongs and being pretty nice dudes. It’s actually amazingly sweet. There is a scene in the opening of the film where they spend the night with an old white lady and fix up her house. It’s delightful.
The plot of the film revolves around Gene Washington’s character coming home from Vietnam to find his brother was murdered by a white supremacist gang. Gene and the rest of the Black Six strike out on an epic journey of motorcycling, being subjected to hate crime, and seeking vengeance.
Is the movie as amazing as it sounds?
Well, yes and no.
The flick is great, don’t get me wrong. It’s like Dirty Dozen meets Shaft on motorcycles but it moves a bit slow at times. The strange part of it is that the ‘actors’ are actually the best part. During a sequence where the six are denied service at a roadside diner, for no reason other than that fact that white people suck, the performances are strangely compelling. Let’s face it, Blaxploitation films are necessarily known for their Shakespearian levels of performance. Maybe it’s because all of the members of the cast are intimately acquainted with the unenviable task of physically performing week in and week out, but they’re all pretty good actors. Joe Greene, especially. That dude is awesome.
As previously mentioned, the gang ride across the country helping people and being the victims of hate crimes. The most intriguing part of the film is that the bikers repeatedly state that they stand for truth, justice, and the American way, something that is a bit of an anomaly in the grim and gritty 70’s.
Apparently the films originally ending was that the six confronts the evil white supremacists that they’ve been searching for and die in a blaze of glory. Well, that that ending was never used. What was used is probably the greatest ending to a Blaxploitation movie ever. The main antagonist blows up his motorcycle in an open-ended finale. You’re not sure who of the six lived or died. And what happens next makes the whole movie worth watching. The film finishes with the caption ‘Honkey, look out… Don’t hassle a brother, or the Black Six will return!”
Can you beat that? I don’t think so. Best. Ending. Caption. Ever.
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Tagged: 49ers, black cinema, blaxsploitation, Chiefs, Dolphins, Eller, Gene Washington, Joe Greene, Lem Barney, Lions, Mercury Morris, shaft, Steelers, the black six, Willie Lanier
Posted in: Cult Movies, Film, Film Reviews, Miscellaneous