Outlaw Johnny Black

Outlaw Johnny Black
Outlaw Johnny Black
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Not like they used to make Westerns, right? Compared to movies like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, 1960s The Magnificent Seven, and Once Upon a Time in the West, today’s Westerns do not exhibit enough energy. Nevertheless, we have seen some great ones in the last two decades. True Grit from 2010 is without doubt one of the finest modern Westerns of the twenty-first century with films such as 3:10 to Yuma and horror cult classic Bone Tomahawk coming close. Not forgetting Quentin Tarantino’s love letters to the Westerns of old like Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight.

Fortunately there is another outstanding western movie on its way. Now it is time for Outlaw Johnny Black, this action comedy will release next year and promises a most entertaining stylish throwback to spaghetti Western with elements of early 70s martial arts movies. Thankfully, Outlaw Johnny Black delivered everything promised and more. It is a hilarious gunfest that drips authenticity from every frame.

Michael Jai White not only nails it as the film’s director and co-writer (with Byron Minns), but also delivers perhaps his best performance to date, and his comedic timing will have you cracking up through every line of dialogue and subtle facial expression. By avoiding seriousness while leaning into ridiculous humor at every turn with a good heartedness that borders on goofiness, it’s pretty obvious what this movie is all about. Amongst other things though, stylistically it’s both an homage to early B-movie days yet also one of the funniest pictures ever made in 2023.

Outlaw Johnny Black follows his titular character,” said Michael Jai White who wrote it as well as directed this underrated martial artist who was once an actor. He just happens to be fastest in the west when it comes down to drawing his pistol or fighting someone off. Johnny Black is out to get the outlaw who killed his father when he was a child. Throughout the Old West, Johnny has hunted high and low for this man.

Now wanted dead or alive, Johnny Black must assume the role of a pastor in Hope Springs Mining town so as to evade capture by law enforcement. While there, he meets some remarkable locals and upon discovering that notorious land baron has taken over Hope Springs, Johnny Black seeks revenge for himself and these kind people.

The Outlaw Johnny Black boasts one of the simplest plots yet still allows viewers to sit back as they enjoy two hours of hilarious madness in this gut-busting Western. In reality, it is more of a comedy set in the West than an action movie one would expect from White. His kicks are above waist height with lightning fast speed and fury while his punches are quick and effective. Though there are only few action scenes which are also very short and straight to the point.

Defining the humor of Outlaw Johnny Black is a very difficult task, and moreover, it’s also hard to describe it without sounding silly or ridiculous. It is not a satirical film and it is not really a parody either. Perhaps comparing it with a movie like Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles and Monty Python and the Holy Grail will give the best description. Unlike these two great comedies, White’s film is not one of the greatest comedies ever made but they share similar absurdism leaning as well as its amazing high quality hilariousness.

One of the best moments in this movie has little to do with any sort of spoke dialogues but rather through caricatured versions of cowboys who speak utter gibberish which includes one of Hope Springs citizens preparing to give an exciting speech. However, his speech makes no sense at all. There are no sentence structures or any connections between what he was talking about before then. Another interesting scene occurs where White keeps on slapping one guard in front of county jail while taking his gun away and putting it back into his holster repeatedly. This guard even looks confused before being slapped twice more for good measure! That is just crazy!

The coherent dialogue plus performances in the film itself are bound to induce much laughter beyond its mere comedy values. Through Michael Jai White’s performance in that movie, we can tell that he was definitely meant to be a great comedian writer. Some people might think that it was stupid while others may find it exaggerated; however we can all agree that Outlaw Johnny Black stands out from other movies because almost everyone agrees that watching this film would make you laugh until your ribs ache.

Besides being hilarious, Outlaw Johnny Black is also an affectionate tribute to many films including those that have been paying homage to earlier films; thus, it becomes some form of simulation art”. These include The Good, The Bad And The Ugly as well as Blazing Saddles by White of course but he also tips his hat to other genres beyond the Western. The film has the music, style, action and editing that evoke ‘70s karate films such that any fan of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1 will love it.

Michael Jai White has always been a fantastic actor. Whether it is starring as the iconic superhero Spawn or acting alongside Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight movie, or getting involved in several martial arts roles where he showcases his awesome fighting skills – Michael Jai White has always proved himself time and again as a talented actor.

Outlaw Johnny Black is no different, but it sports White’s best performance to date. In terms of timing his comedy moves, delivering his lines and being an action hero, Michael Jai White offers an impeccable performance in this epically hilarious triumph of a film.

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