Undercover Brother

An amiable if inconsistent send-up of and tribute to blaxploitation flicks of the early 1970s, essentially an urban AUSTIN POWERS with more kung-fu fighting and attitude. It's also, for what it's worth, the first feature film to be based on an animated Internet series, whose hero is "badder than Shaft, mo-badder than Superfly... fighting for truth, justice...read more

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Reviewed by Steve Simels
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An amiable if inconsistent send-up of and tribute to blaxploitation flicks of the early 1970s, essentially an urban AUSTIN POWERS with more kung-fu fighting and attitude. It's also, for what it's worth, the first feature film to be based on an animated Internet series, whose hero is "badder than Shaft, mo-badder than Superfly... fighting for truth, justice and the African-American way." Fans may be disappointed in the way the material has been politically de-fanged in the transition. As the film begins, Anton Jackson (Eddie Griffin), the titular brother, is a freelance do-gooder with a spectacular afro, a vintage 1972 Cadillac, and a sensibility based on old Bruce Lee movies and P-Funk albums. He's soon recruited by the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D, a super-secret African-American crime-fighting organization (think THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E., complete with street entrance from a seedy-looking barber shop) whose mandate includes restoring black culture to its funky early '70s prominence (the last straw in its degradation was, apparently, Dennis Rodman in a dress). Meanwhile, a sinister cabal called The Man (after its leader, seen Bond-style only in shadows) has devised a complicated plot — whose components include a Colin Powell-esque war hero (Billy Dee Williams) and a fried-chicken franchise — to turn everybody funkless Caucasian zombies. UB must go (duh) undercover as, among others, an obsequious yuppie and a rastafarian golf caddy to root out the conspiracy. Much derring-do ensues, some of which is quite funny — Griffin flips lethal Afro-picks instead of Ninja throwing stars — and overall the cast is a hoot and a half, particularly Chi McBride as UB's perpetually apoplectic boss, Denise Richards as the evil White She-Devil (aptly described as kryptonite for black men) and comic Dave Chappelle as the paranoid Conspiracy Brother. Saturday Night Live veteran Chris Kattan more or less steals the film as the racially confused Mr. Feather, a white supremacist bad guy whose speech patterns tend to get down and funky against his will. On the down side, the script (co-written by John Ridley, who created the character) seems padded and the film feels longer than it actually is. Nonetheless, fans of the blaxploitation genre will appreciate the nicely retro look director Malcolm D. Lee (Spike Lee's cousin) achieves throughout, including liberal use of split-screen fight scenes and sublimely tacky color schemes. The soundtrack all but overflows with vintage funk hits, which set the mood to perfection.

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  • Released: 2002
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: An amiable if inconsistent send-up of and tribute to blaxploitation flicks of the early 1970s, essentially an urban AUSTIN POWERS with more kung-fu fighting and attitude. It's also, for what it's worth, the first feature film to be based on an animated Int… (more)

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