|I'm Gonna Git You Sucka|
|Written by Abbie Bernstein|
|Tuesday, 09 January 2001|
God bless the ‘70s. For all the turmoil of that period, they gave us a lot to laugh about afterward. Case in point: various subgenres of action films, including the one known as “blaxploitation.” Blaxploitation actioners frequently had an advantage over their approximate counterparts starring white actors – when you got down to it, all of these guys looked kind of silly being so impossibly tough, but the black characters often exuded some authentic cool, where the white ones were often just plain old wooden.
‘70s action movies of all descriptions have long begged to be parodied, although it’s a tricky business, as a lot of the films are on the border of self-parody (and it’s difficult to improve on the innate hilarity of those that fall over the edge from the start). Sometimes too much hindsight can be a bad thing – witness this summer’s bigscreen feature “Undercover Brother,” which got the look right but was bruising in its flat humor and overall unpleasantness.
“I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” was made in 1988, when the ‘70s were a lot fresher in everybody’s minds. There’s a cohesive take on the parody, perhaps because in a lot of ways “Sucka” is a one-man show, with Keenen Ivory Wayans writing, directing and starring. He both knows and casts whereof he speaks, lining up an army of supporting players who include Bernie Casey, Antonio Fargas, Isaac Hayes, Jim Brown and Steve James, with everybody’s favorite B-movie baddie John Vernon around as – what else? – Mr. Big.
Wayans plays Jack Spade, a straight arrow who returns home from the Army after the death of his younger brother Junebug, who has O.G.’d – that is, died from an excess of gold chains, a fashion problem that is plaguing the community. Jack’s Mama (Ja’net Dubois) is a formidable (but sexy) matron who simultaneously wants her younger son’s death avenged and her older son to stay out of trouble. Jack, however, must go against Mama’s wishes if he is to clean up the neighborhood, so he enlists her old crime-fighting beau John Slade (Casey), plus a variety of other past-their-heydays heroes (Fargas, Hayes, Brown, James) to take on The Man.
Wayans takes a middle-of-the-road approach to the humor, targeting genre conventions without going after too many specific details, which makes “Sucka” more accessible to those who haven’t studied “Shaft,” “Superfly,” et al, but may slightly disappoint those who wish their favorite bits had come in for more pummeling. Among the better gags are theme music that follows the characters around onscreen, a deliberate substitution of a moustached stuntman for a female character in Chapter 5, a rather inspired lock ‘n’ load sequence in Chapter 13 that’s exactly like the real thing – to a point – and some fabulously era-appropriate and scary costuming.
The cast members are completely in on the joke. Casey, Brown, Hayes and Fargas are particularly impressive as they manage to invest in the lunacy head-on and yet retain the air of cool that makes them such durable icons. Dubois is ladylike yet maternally fierce, Lewis does the damsel in distress routine well and a young Chris Rock turns up in a cameo as an annoying rib joint customer.
Picture quality is excellent, all things considered, with vivid colors and sharp images – the only complaint, a minor one, is a bit of glare off a gold object in a Chapter 9 flashback. Much of the movie is lit rather like a ‘70s sitcom, but this is both intentional and true of the theatrical version. The print is in beautiful condition. The stereo surround sound is fine, too, even though there are no directional effects. Chapter 5 has some good, clear gunfire and what at first seems to be a slight rustle on the track in Chapter 6 turns out to be the very authentic crunching sounds made by a femme fatale’s bright red vinyl outfit. Chapter 12 has some especially authentic-sounding post-gunshot echoes and Chapter 16 boasts a very funny yet catchy rendition of the film’s title theme, performed enthusiastically by the Gap Band.
“Sucka” has its downsides. A few of the jokes repeat themselves perhaps once too often and Wayans sometimes lets the pace lag. There is also what looks to be a real onscreen killing of goldfish in Chapter 10, which is the kind of thing that will elicit negative comment from this reviewer every single time.
However, for the most part “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” is a sunny, frisky satire that will remind you of movie thrills gone by while making you laugh now.