June 26th, 2014

BLACK GUNN (1972) ** ½

Black Gunn has all the right ingredients to make a great action flick. It features Jim Brown kicking people’s asses, Bernie Casey playing a sensitive black militant, Bruce Glover essaying the role of yet another slimy henchman, and Martin Landau portraying a mobster who fronts as a used car salesman. Despite all this potential, it never really comes together. Sure, it has its moments and coasts on the considerable charms of its capable cast; and yet the final product is curiously less than a sum of its parts.

Brown plays a nightclub owner named Gunn whose brother steals some ledgers from the Mob. He tries to get Gunn involved, but naturally, Gunn doesn’t want any part of it. When the Mob finds and kills his brother, Gunn goes out for revenge.

I can’t say I didn’t enjoy Black Gunn because it held my interest throughout. However, the film never really fires on all cylinders. The direction is rather pedestrian, and the action doesn’t exactly knock your socks off. There is one cool scene where Brown throws a pusher down a bowling alley and scores a strike, but there really needed to be more of these moments of awesomeness in order to make the whole thing work.

The incredible cast helps breathe a little life into the otherwise ho-hum proceedings. Brown is excellent as the tough-as-nails hero and Glover is always fun to watch while playing a psychotic. And it was kind of cool seeing Luciana Paluzzi playing a sexy gangster moll.

Black Gunn also features former Kansas City Royals pitcher Vida Blue in a small role. I kinda wish his part was bigger though. Can you imagine if he teamed up with Jim Brown for a Buddy Cop movie? I can almost hear the previews now: “Brown and Blue! They paint the town red!”