I never thought I'd review a James Bond film, but here I am doing just that. Technically, it's actor/writer/director James Bond III, but who's keeping track? His Def by Temptation helped resuscitate blaxploitation in 1990. To a point. I mean, very few people have heard of this slender-budgeted succubus spectacle. Ha! I'm still slaying the alliteration game. Anyway, this wedge of urban horror didn't have a whopping splash radius, so I could forgive you for just now hearing of it. It was distributed on home video (y'know, at your local retailer) by Troma. Wait, don't click away! Temptation doesn't carry jumentous Troma fumes. It's not without fault, but I wouldn't hesitate to file it under "pleasant surprises."
Horse urine. I'm saving you the trouble of opening a dictionary (like you would physically open a dictionary; give me a break). Describing something as "jumentous" is tantamount to saying that it reeks of horse urine. Look, I'm trying to edify inner city youths. I'm the Coach fucking Carter of genre journalism. Speaking of which, Samuel L. Jackson has a bit part in tonight's subject as an abusive priest. The stars of the showboat are James Bond III and Kadeem Hardison. You might recognize the latter as Dwayne Wayne from A Different World, a sitcom that I watched fairly religiously as a brat. Here, he isn't too far off from "Dwayne Wayne" mode. NOTE: I am always in "Dwayne Wayne" mode.
The acting is sturdy. Bond's performance is subtle and believable, a revelation I did not see coming. He plays Joel, a naive minister compelled to leave his hometown to find...well, himself. He shacks up with K (that's his name), his pal from yesteryear. Meanwhile, an alluring coquette is taking men home from bars and tearing them apart. Is there a link between Joel and our killer minx? Obviously. I'll forgo the rest of the synopsis for fear of disclosing too much information. I enjoyed Temptation, but it gets off on a tottery foot. The editing in the first ten minutes is atrocious. We jump from location to location and it's not quite clear if we're also jumping from decade to decade. Bond (the third, that is) doesn't handle flashbacks with refinement.
Thankfully, he picked Ernest R. Dickerson to be his cinematographer. I'm a fan. Dickerson helmed Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight and the woefully underrated Bones. Every picture he has touched is cloaked in gossamer, eye-catching visuals. Def by Temptation is no exception, what with its bold dream sequences and flashy lighting. The special effects are a mixed bag, but I will say that the she-demon's final form is shuddersome. One critic was overheard exclaiming, "Damn, that bitch is creepy!" It was me. I was broadcasting the fact that said ghoul gave me the fidgets. I can neither confirm nor deny that she then proceeded to give me the willies. My family requests that the media allow us our privacy during this difficult time.
The characters are rich and layered. Again, my expectations were exceeded. It's a shame that Bond decided against revisiting fright fare, as it seems he has a knack for it. Hey, you only live twice. Robert Z'Dar says, "Whitley was a cocktease. What did Dwayne see in her?"
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:35 PM