Published by David Carter on 2016/10/2
Directed by J. Robert Wagoner
Review by David Carter

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Released by Vinegar Syndrome
Running Time: 98 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Color format: Color
Audio/Subtitles: 2.0 Mono DTS-HS SDH English, German or French/English Subtitles
Region Code: 1, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
16:9 Enhanced: Yes
Special Features: Making of Documentary, commentary track by Mark Jason Murray, Cliff Roquemore , Rudy Ray Moore, & J. Robert Wagoner, soundtrack, still gallery, radio spot
Trailer Online: Yes

Rudy Ray Moore’s fourth self-produced film in less than five years, DISCO GODFATHER appears to be something of an anomaly in his body of work. The film is decidedly less racy than his previous outings and at times seems worlds away from the raucous street humor and kung-fu shenanigans of DOLEMITE or THE HUMAN TORNADO. Despite this, GODFATHER represents Moore the man better those more famous works and extrapolates on ideas that were undercurrents in all of his films. Each of Moore’s films touched on the problems facing the black community in the seventies, and, as his fame grew and reached a wider audience, this focus expanded from subplots in DOLEMITE to PETEY WHEATSTRAW’s fantasy war-on-poverty sequence. Moore was a man who cared deeply about his friends and his community, and it is that love that is at the forefront of DISCO GODFATHER.

DISCO GODFATHER falls into the “message film” subcategory of blaxploitation. More specifically, it is an anti-drug film. The drug in question in PCP, aka angel dust or the whack, and king of the discos Tucker Williams first learns of the drug when his basketball prodigy nephew, Bucky, accidentally overdoses. Bucky is taken in by Dr. Mathis’ (Jerry Jones) experimental treatment center, and there Tucker sees the destructive effect angel dust has had on his community and vows to stop it at its source. He enlists the help of his former coworkers on the police force and turns his popular club, the Blueberry Hill, into an activism center.

This puts Tucker and his club in the crosshairs of shady businessman Stinger Ray, who is the secret supplier of the angel dust problem. Ray orders a hit on Tucker with the help of a dirty cop secretly on his payroll, but changes his mind and decides to teach the Disco Godfather a lesson instead. Ray hits Tucker’s family and friends – big mistake. Tucker “puts his weight on it” and comes at Stinger Ray with everything he has to put an end to the whack epidemic.

Content-wise, DISCO GODFATHER is Moore’s most family-friendly film; however, it is his most mature thematically. Moore takes the angel dust crisis very seriously here, putting both his bawdy comedy act and his love of beautiful women aside in favor of spotlighting a true crisis of the urban community. The reduced importance of comedy in the film has lead to this being viewed as one of Moore’s lesser works but it stands favorably alongside his others in my opinion. Though less pronounced, the film has many stellar comedic moments, including two of Moore’s most notable catchphrases – “put yo weight on it!” and “How?......and why?” The film’s climax is a psychedelic freak-out straight of COFFIN JOE or Jodorowsky, and successfully drives home the message.

Vinegar Syndrome has once again raised the bar with this release. This is a spectacular print of the movie and is incredible when compared to previous releases. Mark Jason Murray, Moore biographer, again appears to lend his insight on a commentary track that includes Moore and some authentic audio from the set. “I, Dolemite Part IV” is included as a documentary, as are alternate language tracks from the film’s popular run in Europe.

DISCO GODFATHER was Moore’s final film of the seventies and unfortunately marked the end of the height of his popularity. Moore continued touring and releasing albums in the eighties, but his controversial style found him well outside of the mainstream in Reagan’s conservative, day-glow 1980s. Rudy Ray Moore would finally get the recognition he deserved with the rising popularity of rap music, whose founders rightfully saw Dolemite as the originator of the art form. DISCO GODFATHER is therefore the last chapter of a culturally important string of films that continues to influence entertainment to this day.