Dvd Review

Undercover Brother (2002)

DVD Review – Written for RAF News Nov 2015

Undercover Brother (Eddie Griffin) is a secret agent with soul, a superfly Austin Powers… Macy Gray with pork-chop sideburns.

Hired by an underground collective known as The Brotherhood, his mission is to find out why black military general and promising presidential candidate Warren Boutwell (Billy Dee Williams) has decided to drop out of the running and set up a chain of fried chicken restaurants.

Sharing a writer with Austin Powers you can see the similarity in the way that it plucks it’s sexually confident hero from a different time and uses him to parody a film genre, though change swinging 60s espionage for straight up 70s Blaxploitation – using music cues and editing to push home the point, much like the more recent Black Dynamite.

The film is full of one-liners, visual gags and slapstick – not leaving much room for anything else. It feels pieced together around a few sketches, but what it lacks elsewhere it makes up for in the sheer number of jokes so it doesn’t matter that they’re not all that funny.

The supporting cast all serve their purpose – Chris Katan as the villainous underling of The Man, Denise Richards as double agent White She Devil and fellow stand-up comedian Dave Chapelle as the stoner conspiracy theorist who finds racial arguments in a one word greeting. Everyone chips in with jokes but Griffin is the soul of the film and the funniest thing about it.

Undercover Brother is self-aware to the point of almost looking at the audience after each punchline (guilty of using a needle scratch multiple times). For the most part though it shows that the film is aware of it’s tackiness and embraces it as part of it’s tongue in cheek style. Overall it’s not great, a little dated but has style for sure.