Eddie Murphy to star in Netflix biopic of ‘Dolemite’ creator Rudy Ray Moore
This is the space where I’d normally insert an appropriate and hilarious Dolemite quote to kick off this story.
But anyone familiar with Dolemite — the kung-fu-fighting, crass-rhyming pimp character created by actor and blue comedian Rudy Ray Moore in the 1970s — will know that there are no quotes of his that are anywhere near appropriate.
Moore was a struggling comedian in the 1960s, when he heard a homeless man performing a poem about a fictional urban hero named “Dolemite.” Moore decided to adopt the persona on his 1970 comedy record, “Eat Out More Often,” and by 1975 had earned enough money performing to finance the first Dolemite film, which he also co-wrote.
Eddie Murphy will star in a Netflix biopic, “Dolemite Is My Name,” chronicling Moore’s rise in the comedy and film world.
“Dolemite” was among the many seminal entries in the genre of cinema that came to be known as “blaxploitation,” in which black characters took a central role as heroes, rather than sidekicks or villains.
While many of the films did traffic in ethnic stereotypes, there was also an undeniable theme of black empowerment embedded in their plot lines.
In the case of “Dolemite,” the hero was a pimp and nightclub owner with — according to the film poster — “an all-girl army of Kung Fu killers!”
When Hollywood studios showed little interest in bankrolling Moore’s idea, he funded it himself, and the film spawned multiple sequels including “The Human Tornado,” “The Return of Dolemite” and — we swear this is not a joke — “Shaolin Dolemite,” starring Moore as “Monk Ru-Dee.”
In the biopic, Wesley Snipes plays D’Urville Martin, a New York City actor who appeared in numerous blaxploitation films along with larger Hollywood productions like “Rosemary’s Baby” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” Moore convinced Martin to act in the film by promising that he could also direct it.
The film also stars Keegan Michael-Key, Mike Epps and Craig Robinson.
“My Name is Dolemite” will premiere in September at the Toronto International Film Festival, and will be released afterward on Netflix.
Click here to view the trailer which — just like most of Rudy Ray Moore’s career — is not safe for work.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .