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Black Knight (2001)

A predictable vehicle for the resistible Martin Lawrence, Black Knight is yet another rerun of Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee at the Court of King Arthur concept which plays like a horror-free, considerably less funny take on Army of Darkness. Jamal (Lawrence), minion in a mediaeval theme park, reaches into a moat for a magic amulet and is transported to the 14th Century, where he is appalled by the toilet facilities, pals around with a disgraced knight (an equally disgraced Tom Wilkinson), romances a feminist lady-in-waiting (Marsha Thomason), introduces soul music to the court in a bit done better in A Knight's Tale and becomes the legendary black knight to help the rebels overthrow the wicked king. It has a bigger, more lavish feel than most of Lawrence's makeshift knockabouts, but that may also be why it is even less funny since his rants are rather reined-in and his screen character comes across as just overly pleased with himself rather than a comic foul-up who turns heroic. Full of references to American sports that you probably wouldn't laugh at even if you did understand them. The ending, in which Jamal is transported back to the coliseum and is chased by three hungry lions, would be funnier if it went beyond the freeze-frame to show Lawrence being rent and devoured by the beasties.
KIM NEWMAN

First published in this form here.


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