Outlaw Johnny Black 2023 movie review
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Western films just don’t capture the magic of their heyday, do they? When you think of classics like “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” the 1960s “The Magnificent Seven,” and “Once Upon a Time in the West,” today’s Westerns often fall short in terms of the same electrifying energy. However, let’s not be mistaken; the past two decades have seen some remarkable entries. “True Grit” from 2010 stands as one of the finest modern Westerns of the 21st century, alongside gems like “3:10 to Yuma” and the cult classic “Bone Tomahawk.” And, of course, we can’t overlook Quentin Tarantino’s love letters to Westerns of yore, “Django Unchained” and “The Hateful Eight.”

Thankfully, a promising Western film is on the horizon. Emerging in 2023 is “Outlaw Johnny Black,” an action-comedy that pledges to be an entertaining, stylish, and action-packed throwback to the spaghetti Westerns of old, infused with the essence of early ’70s martial arts cinema. And true to its word, “Outlaw Johnny Black” delivers on its promises and then some. It’s a side-splitting, trigger-happy journey that exudes an authentic ’70s aesthetic.

Michael Jai White not only excels as the film’s director and co-writer (alongside Byron Minns) but also delivers what may be his most outstanding performance to date. His impeccable comedic timing will have you in stitches with every line of dialogue and subtle facial expression. The humor treads the line between goofiness and parody, and the film fully embraces its outrageous humor to great effect. “Outlaw Johnny Black” is a stylish homage that also happens to be one of the funniest and most entertaining films of 2023.

Written and directed by the legendary yet often overlooked action star and martial artist, Michael Jai White, “Outlaw Johnny Black” follows its eponymous character, a gunslinger with lightning-fast reflexes and deadly fighting skills. Johnny Black has sworn vengeance against the man who murdered his father when he was just a child. His relentless quest has taken him across the Old West in pursuit of the elusive culprit.

Now, wanted dead or alive, Johnny Black must assume the guise of a preacher in the small mining town of Hope Springs to evade the authorities. During his time in the town, he encounters some resilient townspeople. When he learns that the town has fallen under the tyrannical rule of a notorious land baron, Johnny Black decides to seek vengeance, not only for himself but for the good-hearted folks of Hope Springs.

The plot of “Outlaw Johnny Black” may be straightforward, but its simplicity allows the audience to sit back and relish the riotous madness that unfolds during this two-hour Western romp. The film leans more towards being a Western comedy than a traditional action film, with White’s signature kicks and punches making sporadic, efficient appearances. While action scenes are infrequent and brief, they serve their purpose with precision.

Defining the humor of “Outlaw Johnny Black” is no easy feat. It’s a unique brand of humor that defies easy description without sounding goofy or absurd. It’s not exactly satire, and it’s not a straightforward parody either. Perhaps the best comparison would be to films like Mel Brooks’ “Blazing Saddles” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” While “Outlaw Johnny Black” may not reach the comedic heights of those classics, it shares a similar penchant for absurdity and wonderfully over-the-top humor.

Some of the film’s best moments come from exaggerated caricatures of cowboys who speak utter gibberish, like when one Hope Springs resident prepares to deliver an inspiring speech but ends up spouting complete nonsense. Another standout scene sees White repeatedly slap a guard in the Sheriff’s station while stealthily swiping the guard’s gun and returning it to the holster. The guard’s bewildered expression before receiving another slap is pure gold. It’s absurdity at its finest.

On top of its comedic brilliance, “Outlaw Johnny Black” pays homage to a multitude of films, spanning not only Westerns like “The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly” and “Blazing Saddles” but also venturing into other genres. The film exudes the energy of ’70s martial arts cinema, from its music and style to its action sequences and editing. If you’re a fan of Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill Vol.1,” you’re bound to appreciate the homage.

Michael Jai White has always been a remarkable actor, whether he’s portraying the iconic superhero Spawn, sharing the screen with Heath Ledger’s Joker in “The Dark Knight,” or showcasing his martial arts prowess. “Outlaw Johnny Black” is no exception, and it showcases White’s finest performance yet. Through his impeccable comedic timing, delivery, and action hero skills, Michael Jai White shines in this uproariously hilarious cinematic triumph.

https://youtu.be/XJ90m4r82wU?si=aYM9FVOmOZg-EvHA

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By acinetv