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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Retro Review: Biker Boyz (2003)

Biker Boyz
Cast: Derek Luke, Laurence Fishburne, Meagan Good, Djimon Hounsou, Larenz Tate, Orlando Jones, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Kid Rock, Eriq La Salle 
Genre: Action Racing
US Box Office Gross: over $23 million 

Plot: Slick Will, the mechanic for a legendary motorcycle racer named Smoke (Laurence Fishburne) is struck dead during an off-the-grid race. Following the funeral, and in opposition to his mother's protests, Slick Will's son, Kid starts racing in the same fringe circuit - but despite Kid's skill and showmanship, Smoke refuses to race him. Spurned by the man he looked up to, Kid starts a motorcycle gang called the Biker Boyz - & a showdown is inevitable 

'Biker Boyz Is A Lot Of Hot Noise.... And Not Much Else'

Given the enormous success of the Fast and the Furious franchise and the exposure of illegal car racing, we'd have the two-wheel equivalent namely Biker Boyz and the premise is virtually the same. Only it is less flashy and Hollywood-like; but even with this, one would expect that in a film with exciting motorcycle races, this, in turn, makes for a good movie. But that is not enough: Biker Boyz's issues are further compounded by its inability to decide out of the two whether it wants to be a full-on racing flick or a drama.  

Watching this movie I became bored out of my mind, that I was less invested in the characters and the race scenes themselves. Biker Boyz suffers in every single aspect. From the mediocre script, performances that led me to think the actors didn't really want to be in this movie, to the uneven feel this film evokes. It also doesn't help that this was released on the back of the success of the Fast and Furious franchise.

In Biker Boyz, the elite ensemble casting actually sounds impressive - names such as Terence Howard, ER's Eriq La Salle, Derek Luke, Lawrence Fishburne, Kadeem Hardison of A Different World, Vanessa Bell Calloway and Djimon Hounsou are well known to Black audiences, but the movie's screenplay is the main problem; thus, seriously hampering their talents and they deserve better, because after seeing the trailer for this film, I assumed that this would be an interesting movie on motorcycles and that it will do the same for it, just as cars did for The Fast and the Furious series. You'd think with Hounsou and Fishburne, given the quality roles they'd undertaken (Hounsou in the critically acclaimed, Amistad and Fishbourne who did a startling job as Ike Turner in What's Love Got To Do With It?) they would be in a high-quality movie other than this; therefore, it is slightly bewildering to see them here. 

The script fails to evoke any emotion, interest and the story involving Kid taking on Smoke, trying to avenge his father's death ought to have been a whole lot more interesting. The whole film consists of characters uttering poor dialogue, generic race scenes that seem to go on forever, which they themselves lack excitement and inventiveness and drab one-to-one conversations between various characters, of whom lack characterisation. There are no attempts made in carving out intriguing personalities, but they come off more like stock characters. The rest of the movie flatters to deceive and is just sheer tedium.  

I was slightly bemused to see Orlando Jones in a sleeveless vest, whooping and yelling, and then in the next scene, he is wearing a sharp suit in a hospital. I was like what is all that all about. 

The director obviously was trying to mimic the Fast and the Furious movies, and though whilst I don't care for that franchise, it did tremendously well at the box office, - unlike Biker Boyz, which the same cannot be said for it. Both this film and Torque, which came out the year after, in general, are not good whatsoever, and yet if I had to choose out of the two, I'd opt for Torque: as hugely flawed as that is as well, it doesn't take itself too seriously and that it doesn't try to be something that it is not and it doesn't try too hard. Biker Boyz comes across as trying too hard to be convincing through the storyline, I lost all interest and enthusiasm in it quickly. 

The sub-culture of biker clubs or gangs in Biker Boyz could've and should've been tapped into and further developed, and yet this is hardly touched upon. What felt like 2 hours, was an excruciatingly insufferable 60 mins, where in which I eventually gave up half way through; the film was long-winded, slow- paced, it felt like scenes went on for far longer than they should have. 

Final Verdict:

It is thus a shame that Biker Boyz turned out to be a real disappointment, given I liked what I saw of the original trailer. I don't know anything about motorcycling or motorbikes, yet I still went into this film, hoping it would be as good as what the trailer had presented, but no. The drama is not convincing enough and the dialogue was forgettable. The impressive main casting itself doesn't equate to what is a really poor film; I expected a lot more from and out of it, but I just didn't get it. 

As for the race scenes themselves, I wasn't excited or blown away when I saw them; they were so pedestrian and the way it was conceived just frankly bored my head off. In all, Biker Boyz is a film with little substance with people riding motorbikes and other boring scenes that go with it. 

With a running time that practically goes on forever, this isn't an emotionally character-driven story, but a 2-wheeled Fast & The Furious - type of film that doesn't really go anywhere, and that is just nothing but noisy motorcycle races and scenes. 

Biker Boyz felt more like 'Biker Boyzzzzz'.

Very disappointed. 


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