a critiQal film review Biker Boyz (2003)

  • DVD

Plot: Welcome to the world of underground motorcycle racing. Kid (Luke) is new to the game. He’s just a “prospect”, but he wants the big title - King of Cali. That’s going to be tough to get though. His dad (La Salle) is mechanic to the big man around here - Smoke (Fishburne). After Kid’s dad is killed in a freak accident, Kid wants the title more than ever. But, Smoke isn’t going to give it up that easily...

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  • ...despite looking like a knock-off, this film leaves cheesy Vin Diesel car films wallowing in it's dust.

With that awful film The Fast and the Furious (2001) (and it’s sequel) running up big box office money, it’s inevitable there are going to be a few movies that come out riding their coat tails.

The first time I heard about Biker Boyz, I figured that’s all it was. Sure, it wasn’t fast cars, it was fast bikes, but big deal. Since The Fast and the Furious (2001) sucked so badly, I really didn’t have any interest in it. Anything that looked like it was trying to copy that craptastic film wasn’t something I wanted to be anywhere near.

But, as time wore on, it started peaking my interest. Why? Well, Laurence Fishburne (Boyz n the Hood (1991), The Matrix (1999), etc.) was playing a starring role, so I knew the acting was going to go up a few notches.

Another? Kid Rock. Yeah, I know, he’s not really known for his acting, just his music, but I wanted to see if he could do both. Still, I wasn’t going to pay to go see it in the theaters, so I waited until it hit DVD, then shelled out a couple of bucks, brought it home, and popped it in.

Laurence Fishburne continues his string of successes, at least acting-wise, with Biker Boyz. He puts a lot of character into his characters, so to speak. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing, whether he’s Morpheus in The Matrix (1999), an escaped con in Fled, or a biker in this film…whatever he does, Fishburne seems to bring out a deeper side to his character.

His voice is a great starter for that, but he himself just seems to flesh out his characters really well. No matter how shallow the role, he’s always got depth. When he’s given a decent storyline, he can really take the audience for a ride. And that’s just what he does in this film.

Newcomers Derek Luke and Kid Rock bring two unique personas to Biker Boyz. Kid Rock, already known for his music (and his bad boy image) just glides through the film without making too big of a statement. Derek Luke, on the other hand, doesn’t have any sort of background to rest on, and seems intent on proving he’s able to compete with the big boys, acting-wise. He does show some potential in this film, and it will be interesting to see how his career continues.

An added bonus for Biker Boyz is the plethora of familiar faces backing up the main characters. From Eriq La Salle (“ER” (TV)) as Kid’s dad, to Smoke’s friend Orlando Jones and Smoke’s on-again/off-again girlfriend Lisa Bonet, to handicapped Kareem Hardison, there’s a familiar face in every scene…and that’s just scratching the surface. It’s almost as fun just to watch the film and name something else the supporting cast has been in. It’s rare to have such a huge recognizable supporting cast, and it just adds to the fun of the film.

Biker Boyz outshines it’s predecessor The Fast and the Furious (2001) in one incredibly major way – it’s actually got a plot, and (more to the point), the viewer will want the plot to keep going, because they actually want to see what happens next. In The Fast and the Furious (2001), it was just about the cars, and the actors basically got annoying if they weren’t racing. Here, they’ve got the flash and excitement of the bikes, plus they’ve put together a really decent plot. See if you can learn from this film, The Fast and the Furious (2001) – you CAN have both!

With films like Biker Boyz, a huge amount of time has to be put into the special effects, or the viewer will lose interest. True, this film at least has a good plot to go with the racing, but the viewer would still lose interest if all the build-up turns out to be cheesy, or the races are just plain un-exciting.

That’s one thing The Fast and the Furious (2001) did have going for it, and Biker Boyz doesn’t disappoint in that arena either. The filmmakers and cast definitely take full advantage of their time with the bikes, and put out some intense sequences. Some of the special effects are a little strange, such as a grainy image indicating a flashback, but the rest of the effects more than make up for it.

There are only a couple of flaws with Biker Boyz. The one major one occurs about an hour and 10 minutes into it. There’s an incredibly bad editing job, and it kind of throws the viewer out of the film for a little while. With just that one editing error, the next 10 minutes or so are almost wasted film. The viewer will start worrying the DVD player has skipped a part of the film, or something. It’s a real pity, but the good news is it occurs at a point where the viewer doesn’t need to be real involved in the film – no major plot points, in other words.

The other seems to be another editing error. The relationship between Kid and Tina starts slow with two meetings, where she basically ignores him, then suddenly she’s all over him. It’s kind of silly, but the relationship grows steadily from there on, and makes up for it.

All in all, Biker Boyz may have ridden the coat tails of The Fast and the Furious (2001) onto the big screen, but they far surpass that film by the end. That’s mainly thanks to the actors’ talents, because they are what turns this movie from just a simple copycat to a real likeable film.

If you haven’t seen The Fast and the Furious (2001) yet (or you have, and are shying away from films like it), you should really check out Biker Boyz. It leaves cheesy Vin Diesel car films far in the dust.

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