Writer/producer/director John Evans tries for some substance rather than mere violence in the Blaxploitation genre, and it’s an admirable attempt – but Evans’ laggardly pacing keeps the film from being little more than a routine effort.
What Evans envisions hopefully, is the joining of black gangsters and black militants to rid the ghetto of drugs supplied by the white underworld.
JJ (Rod Perry) is the bright, articulate protege of Los Angeles numbers kingpin Nate (blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon), who is persuaded by militant leader Diablo (Damu King) to help abort a delivery of $3 million in heroin to local white mobster Tony Burton (Don Chastain) whose organisation has had a working relationship with Nate for years.
Evans gets the film underway effectively but runs out of inspiration to tie it all together.
That JJ would not go to extraordinary lengths to protect Nate’s beautiful daughter, Yvonne (Diane Sommerfield), with whom he is involved romantically, defies credibility.
Also, Evans often fails to sustain energy in his many dialogue scenes. Although only 95 minutes long, The Black Godfather seems longer because it too frequently drags.
Evans’ strengths are best revealed in the film’s tender moments, in his obvious sense of commitment and in his capacity for caring about his characters.
Rod Perry is an appealing and dynamic young actor who brings much to the complex, rather ambiguous character he plays. Damu King is especially impressive, as is Tony Burton as Nate’s loyal ex-fighter bodyguard, Sonny Spyder Brown.
Lt. Joe Sterling
Sonny Spyder Brown
Herbert Jefferson Jr.
Ernie Lee Banks