Retro Review: ‘Solomon King’

One constant threat to the art of cinema that has been recognized is that of films being lost. Thankfully preservationists both at the studios and in nonprofit organizations have been hard at work preserving and restoring classic pictures for future generations. Recently we have seen this effort begin to be expanded to include movies that were once regarded as low budget fare playing in grindhouse theaters on the bad side of town. Recently, Deaf Crocodile Films rediscovered a blaxpoitation flicks made by Oakland-based business man Sal Watts. After a great restoration job the movie was ready to be released just this year. In 1974, Watts took his shot at entering the movie business by writing, co-directing, and starring in Solomon King. Since every February I try to shine a spotlight on African American cinema in honor of Black History Month I figure it is fitting to review this excellent piece of cinema that has recently been rescued.

Former CIA operative and Green Beret Solomon King, is trying to live his life as a business man in Oakland. But when a threat from the villainous Sheik Hassan (played by a red-haired white guy) making a play for more power murders King’s girlfriend Princess Oneeba, the man has to go back to business. With the help of his CIA connections and his old war buddies Solomon King is going to have his revenge.

I have once heard it said that film editing is something you never really notice unless it is bad. That being said when you watch Solomon King you DEFINITLEY notice the editing. From nonsensical establishing shots to atrociously assembled action scenes, you will definitely shake your head a more than a few times in this movie and go “wait what”. However, I will happily salute this editor because it is clear those who made this movie on a technical level are definitely greener than Slimer at a St. Patrick’s Day festival. While this may sound like I am dissing Solomon King, rest assured this may be one of the most purely entertaining movies I have ever seen. Sal Watts and co-director Jack Bomay seem to embrace their deficiencies and the nonsense of it all to create an absolute masterpiece of good-bad cinema. In every single second of this movie there is something happening that keeps the energy high and never lets up. What is happening may be pure nonsense but, you can not take your eyes off of it. This goes double for the fight scenes that are so hilariously poorly choreographed that strangely they become an absolute blast to behold.

What Solomon King lacks in technical prowess it makes up for tenfold in pure fun. If watching this flick does not get your adrenaline pumping during the action scenes or get you grooving to the stellar tunes (the main song “Sister Sheila” by Charles “Pooky” Russell slaps so freaking hard) then you may not have a soul. The main objective of a film is usually to entertain and Solomon King has no trouble in this department. After watching it, I went into my office to grab my Vancouver Grizzlies cap just so I could put it on, then tip it to the good people at Deaf Crocodile Films for not only rescuing this film from being lost, but for sharing it with the rest of the world.