Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why no love for Michael Jai White?



I read an article back in 2013 that said some of Michael Jai White's upcoming roles in 2014 could turn him into an action star. My question is why isn't he already considered an action star? The movie mentioned in the article, Skin Trade, is in post-production and slated for a 2015 release, so will he become an action star then? If you ask me, he's one of the most underrated action stars that is often overlooked in his mainstream roles but really seems to shine in direct-to-DVD movies. Most people are only familiar with MJW from his starring role in the live-action adaptation of Spawn from 1997.


The movie was considered a failure by fans of the comics but not because of White's performance. Since then, he's had a small appearance in The Dark Knight as a mob boss who's killed by the Joker and also played Jax in Mortal Kombat: Legacy. He also had a fight scene with David Carradine in Kill Bill Vol. 2 that never made it to the theatrical cut but you can find it in the deleted scenes on DVD. What people don't know is that he's been killing it in direct-to-DVD martial arts movies! White has been studying martial arts since the age of 8, earning his first black belt in his teens. He currently holds seven black belts in various disciplines such as Shotokan, Tae Kwon Do, Kobudo, Goju Ryu, Tang Soo Do, Wushu, and Kyokushin. As an accomplished martial artist, White really got a chance to show his chops (and kicks!) when he starred opposite of another underrated action star Scott Adkins in Undisputed II: Last Man Standing.


I realize that he's done other things like Universal Soldier: The Return and Exit Wounds but Undisputed II was the first time I saw him in a direct-to-DVD sequel that was superior to a movie he wasn't even originally involved in. The first Undisputed featured Ving Rhames as an undefeated boxing champ who gets locked up starring opposite of Wesley Snipes, the undefeated prison boxing champion. The movie ends with Ving Rhames losing a match to Wesley Snipes on the inside but remains undefeated to the world outside. Michael Jai White takes over Ving Rhames' role while the movie switches focus from boxing to Mixed Martial Arts. My favorite Michael Jai White film, without a doubt, has to be Black Dynamite, a homage to blaxploitation films of the 70's and one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Check out the trailer and tell me you don't wanna see that movie!

DY-NA-MITE! DY-NA-MITE!!

Personally, I'm a huge fan of Michael Jai White's work. He's starred in a couple other direct-to-DVD releases such as Blood and Bone and Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown that really showcases how underrated his martial arts skills and on-screen presence are. I love that he's able to make extremely entertaining sequels to movies that were terrible to begin with. Never Back Down was cheesy teen flick about Mixed Martial Arts that felt like it was produced by MTV. Michael Jai White directs and stars in the sequel that's way more entertaining (and cheesy, but in a good way). I really like what White brings to the table, his martial arts background makes the fight choreography look fantastic and he's got enough range to be hilarious in comedies as seen in Black Dynamite. Do yourself a favor and rent a few of his movies, so you can have yourself a Michael Jai White movie night!

Recommended Playlist:

1. Undisputed II: Last Man Standing
2. Black Dynamite
3. Never Back Down 2: The Beatdown
4. Blood and Bone 
5. Spawn
6. Tactical Force