NBA superstar Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers made his return to the big screen last week February 19, with the world premiere of "The Black Mamba," directed by Robert Rodriguez.
Bryant, who previously starred in "Kobe Doin' Work," an ESPN documentary movie directed by Spike Lee in 2008, found himself for the first time faced up to the challenge of projecting a fictional script.
The movie's main objective is to promote Nike's Zoom Kobe VI shoes, which more than any other in the Kobe shoe series epitomizes on the image of The Black Mamba.
The Black Mamba movie revolves around the very character and essence of Bryant's alter-ego, The Black Mamba—a moniker for the legendary side of the five-time champion fans and players alike claim reveals itself when Bryant is at his fiercest and deadliest mindset.
The nickname Bryant has been bestowed with, is derived from the large, venomous and swift African snake with a likewise name.
The movie takes to the theme of switching to and fro between and within the imaginations of Bryant and Director Rodriguez to form mental images of each scenario they visualize.
The Black Mamba begins in an office like setting, with Kobe Bryant getting up from one of the present lounge chairs to greet the approaching Robert Rodriguez.
The two share a customary handshake, and each take a seat on their respective sides. Bryant wastes no time and immediately inquires about the word of Rodriguez's idea for a movie. Rodriguez then proposes his thought of making a film about The Black Mamba—Bryant's alter-ego.
The imaginative scene begins at nightfall, with Bryant getting off the Los Angeles Lakers' team bus on a supposed game night. Unlike the usual routine he has grown accustomed to in his experience as an NBA athlete, Bryant is left to wonder about his particularly chilling situation and why there is nobody aside from himself around the town or on board the bus.
Bryant's common sense leads him to understand that the safest thing to do would be to re-enter the bus and await assistance, but before he is able to execute the task, the possibility of it is immediately compromised, as the bus suddenly explodes without warning.
Bryant is luckily left unscathed and thus forced to venture deeper into the town—in search of potential help—in the middle of nowhere.
As he walks on, he finds a rather large figure of a man facing the other direction, wearing a black leather coat, with long hair.
Director Rodriguez dubs the said man as "The Crippler," whom he mentions that hopefully actor Mickey Rourke would portray (The Crippler is instead played by action star Danny Trejo).
The mysterious figure turns back to reveal the man with unexpected monster-like arms and tells Bryant that a man named The Boss wants his Nike Zoom Kobe VI shoes. Bryant promptly responds by saying he is still using them, but the intimidating man reveals himself to have a hostage—a little Jack Russell Terrier dog that is blindfolded and leashed to a pole on the street.
Bryant is not pleased with the immoral hostage taking, and decides to put up a fight. Unfortunately for him, The Crippler is pure aggression, and begins to relentlessly swipe and claw at Bryant with his inhuman arms.
Thanks to Bryant's elusiveness and a number of The Crippler's futile attempts at ripping Bryant's head off, The Crippler finally gets a taste of his own medicine as The Black Mamba—who is narrated to have a killer instinct that is unmatched—retaliates by picking up a basketball that happens to be lying around on the side of the road and throwing a superbly strong and accurate chest pass at The Crippler, propelling the antagonist onto a cement pillar, causing the structure it supports to collapse and ultimately put an end to The Crippler's life.
Bryant then turns back to save the canine hostage, he unleashes the dog and finds a piece of paper around it's collar with the words "GAME ON" written on it. To Bryant's surprise, the seemingly innocent dog turns on him and attacks his new sneaker.
After escaping the situation, Bryant discovers that The Boss wants to end his reign as the best player on the planet and NBA champion. He wants to defeat Bryant and after which collect his shoe as a trophy.
Bryant, being himself, doesn't back down from the challenge and takes a jeep to make his way towards the rendezvous point. Bryant then meets a bald man at a back-alley basketball court wearing a respectable looking suit.
The formally dressed man is dubbed by Director Rodriguez as Mr. Suave, whom he again hoped would be played by the person of actor George Clooney (Mr. Suave is played by Bruce Willis).
The outlines of the back-alley court then catches fire, creating an eerie and intimidating surrounding for the approaching Bryant, whom despite the occurrences looks as unshaken as always.
Mr. Suave, holding a basketball, utters the beginnings of what sounds to be a lengthy monologue but is interrupted by The Black Mamba's nature to strike first—Bryant quickly snags the basketball away from him, only to find that The Boss was counting on his actions exactly.
The ball releases a metallic contraption that captures Bryant's right hand.
Mr. Suave then explains to him that The Boss wants to meet him. When Bryant asks Mr. Suave what the Boss wanted, the calm lackey says that while some take souls and scalps, The Boss, takes shoes.
He leads Bryant to a tall tower, topped with a basketball court with no rails to keep one from falling over the ledge, illuminated by two patrolling helicopters.
There, Bryant finally meets The Boss—who is played spot on by music artist, Kanye West.
The Boss then initiates the battle by asking Bryant if he is ready to join his trophy wall, while putting out five muscular genetic freak athletes to play against Bryant in a full court game of 5-on-1.
As the contest commences, Bryant's alter-ego takes over, beginning the game with a steal and a slam at the other end. He continues the intense game play, understanding that his life is at stake.
He resumes to eliminate the bigger thugs one by one, despite their continued efforts to push him off the sky-high court.
Later on, with Bryant down to one last opponent, The Boss gets involved and out of sheer desperation, pushes Bryant off the ledge, in what seems to have sent The Black Mamba plummeting to his death.
With Bryant gone, The Boss commands his final playing subordinate to complete a fast break score and finish the game—but Bryant was not to go away that easily. Bryant never fell, he simply hung on to the side of the penthouse ledge, and with a rush of adrenaline; sprints, jumps and blocks what was to be an easy basket for The Boss' team—sending The Boss into a fit of profanities.
With a look of fear on his face, the final henchman jumps off the side and completes a suicide, leaving The Boss unguarded.
The Boss runs off to one of his helicopters and swears to Bryant that their encounter isn't over.
Bryant then hears a beeping sound resonating from the basketball in his hand, which he discovers has a bomb implanted into it. Thinking fast and true to himself, he sends the ball into the air and towards The Boss' ascending helicopter, causing an infernal explosion that leaves no one aboard the helicopter alive.
To bestow a fitting conclusion to his rough night, Bryant sternly bids his enemy goodbye in his signature Italian, "Arrivederci" (Bryant learned Italian when he was a child as his father, Joe Bryant played professional basketball in Italy).
The scene then switches back to the conversing Bryant and Rodriguez, with Bryant asking how the movie should end. To this, Rodriguez toasts the idea that The Black Mamba doesn't end, because heroes come and go, but legends are forever.
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