If there’s an experience more sterile than strolling through an empty shopping mall, it’s watching a high-powered action sequence set inside an empty shopping mall-you get the feeling that some producer didn’t want to bother paying for extras. In the glass-shattering climax of A Low Down Dirty Shame, an action comedy written and directed by Keenen Ivory Wayans, Wayans, playing a super-suave private eye, blows up a hardware store on the top floor of a giant Los Angeles mall. As the explosion sends debris flying with triumphantly pointless force, Wayans bungee-jumps to the ground floor and then, hanging from the end of the cord, grabs a gun out of the villain’s hand. That’s a nifty trick. Still, I’m not sure I’ve ever sat through a spectacle of detonating matter with greater indifference. Who cares about blowing up a mall, anyway? In A Low Down Dirty Shame, the property that gets demolished looks as if it were there for no other reason than to get demolished.
As the creator-star of TV’s In Living Color and the likable, scattershot 1988 blaxploitation spoof I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, Wayans has always exhibited more enthusiasm than personality. In a strange way, his handsomeness works against him; he’s too conventionally, male-magazine sexy to let himself look ridiculous. owever, in A Low Down Dirty Shame (is it just me, or was anyone else embarrassed to blurt out that title to the ticket seller?), Wayans’ slightly impersonal, smart-mouthed effrontery makes him a winning action hero. He’s like Jean-Claude Van Damme with better timing. The movie pits his swaggering detective, Andre Shame, against the most boring group of bad guys imaginable (yes, it’s another pockmarked Latino crime lord). A Low Down Dirty Shame would be almost entirely generic were it not for the twinkly macho panache Wayans brings to his role. Actually, there is one other saving grace. As Shame’s adoring secretary, a kind of Homegirl Friday named Peaches, Jada Pinkett, looking like an aerobicized Josephine Baker, is a hyperkinetic comic sprite. Her blustery performance is sure to remind viewers of Rosie Perez, but with an important difference: Where Perez blasts you with ego, Pinkett parades her head-waggling bravado with a welcome dose of self-mockery. C