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Black Belt Jones
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Black Belt Jones: a little background

By The Man

Black Belt Jones was only Jim Kelly's third movie and his first in the male lead role. Kelly was a martial arts champion who had been introduced to the world of film through the 1972 Calvin Lockhart vehicle 'Melinda'. He'd been hired to take the star through basic kung fu, and ended up being cast in a supporting role when the film's producers picked up on his screen presence. As a result of his charisma (if not acting ability) Kelly was drafted at short notice into Bruce Lee's worldwide hit 'Enter The Dragon' the following year, playing streetwise karate good guy Williams in place of now-forgotten actor Rockne Tarkington.

After the death of Lee in 1973, producers Paul Heller and Fred Weintraub made a shrewd decision. They reckoned that a combination of two contemporary box office winners, black action movies and martial arts films, could lead to big screen success. Jim Kelly was their ideal candidate as audiences knew him from 'Enter The Dragon'. Also, Weintraub and Heller recognised that he had the screen presence and the kung fu moves to match. Kelly was given a three-picture deal with an option for a TV series spin-off. The first of these movies was to be Black Belt Jones.

Directed by martial arts specialist Bob Clouse and scripted by black filmmaker Oscar Williams (responsible for 1972's The Final Comedown), the film's plot is basic to say the least. Local gambling hoodlum Pinky tries to cheat Mafia boss Steffano. The ruse is discovered and the Mob instructs Pinky to settle his debt by persuading local karate school owner Pop Byrd to sell his premises, situated in an up-and-coming neighbourhood that the Mob wants to control. Helped by his students Quincy and Toppy, Pop Byrd resists Pinky and his hoods. Meanwhile, Black Belt Jones is investigating the Mob on behalf of a government organisation, and comes to Byrd's aid. After their initial humiliation at the hands of Pop's schoolkids, Pinky and his men try again. During the raid they accidentally kill Pop Byrd. Jones attends the funeral and meets Byrd's daughter Sidney, a kung fu expert determined to avenge for her father's death. She manages to take on Pinky's men and wins, but they subsequently kidnap Quincy and hold him to ransom. Jones intervenes, helping Sidney by assembling a team of female agents to storm the Mafia's headquarters. They recover $250,000 in Mafia cash with which they free Quincy before the Mob chases them to a car wash for the final showdown.

All site contents ©2001 blaxploitation.com. The author has asserted his moral rights. Cover scans, album reviews, all other text content and/or pictures may only be used by prior permission of the.man@blaxploitation.com. But what the hell, I'm a nice guy, so drop me a line!