Review

Synopsis:

A slick, smooth-talking, womanizing young black DJ falls hard for an enigmatic woman he’s just met. Things take a turn for the worse, though, when she is found dead in his apartment. It turns out that she was killed by the local mob, which is trying to frame him for the crime. With the police after him, he calls on some of his old acquaintances to help clear his name and avenge the woman’s death.

Review:

A crass, unflinching radio DJ and aspiring martial arts student named Frankie J. Parker (Calvin Lockheart) meets an attractive young woman named Melinda (played by Vonetta McGee) at a nightclub one night. They hang out, go back to his place, and he knows there’s something about her that he can’t quite make out, but she’s troubled, and it intrigues him. Over the course of a few days and nights, they spend time with each other, but when she turns up dead in his bachelor pad, he’s framed for the crime and so he goes on the run, trying to solve her murder. Turns out Melinda was a high profile mobster’s secretary / mistress who had a recording of the mobster admitting to a murder, and so she was killed because of it. Parker goes after the mob, using his wits, bravado, and connections to his martial arts club (run by Jim Kelly in his first role), and there will be hell to pay as Parker’s rage turns into an unbridled vengeance.

An unusual mix of action, melodrama, and martial arts mayhem makes Melinda a curious blaxploitation entry. It definitely has its moments, but it never quite achieves a zenith of status in the annals of similar films. Lockheart is an acquired taste with his unlikable machismo and overcompensating swagger, but I loved Jim Kelly in his supporting role, and co-star McGee was a great find. The highlights of the film revolve around the action and the initial courtship between Lockheart and McGee, but when we eventually see Lockheart pummeling the villain’s face to a pulp, I’d lost interest. Still, the film will hold interest for fans of the genre. It was directed by Hugh A. Robertson.

Warner Archives recently released Melinda onto DVD as part of their Warner Archives on-demand series, and it looked pretty good in a widescreen (1:85:1) transfer.



About the Author

david j. moore
david j. moore is the author of World Gone Wild: A Survivor's Guide to Post-Apocalyptic Movies and the upcoming book The Good, the Tough and the Deadly: Action Movies and Stars, coming April, 2016 from Schiffer Publishing.