Biker Boyz
2 out of 5 stars
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This quite clearly wants to be a Fast and Furious-type B-movie, but you can feel it getting ideas above itself as it progresses. Kid (Luke) is an 18-year-old with a lot to prove--son of an ace motorbike mechanic (LaSalle), he has a gigantic chip on his shoulder and wants to take over the world of underground racing from the current top dog, Smoke (Fishburne). But he's just a kid, after all, and his mother (Calloway) doesn't want him racing. Still, he forms his own gang with his friends (Fehr and Gonzalez) and hits the circuit, heading for trouble ... and a showdown with Smoke.

There's a lot of exciting vroom-vroom action here that keeps us watching, even as the story sinks slowly and surely into silly, contrived melodrama. Luke proves that Antwone Fisher was no fluke, he really can carry a movie on his muscly shoulders! Fishburne (who apparently never gets tired of wearing black trenchcoats) seems almost hilariously relaxed; and there's good support from the mammoth ensemble cast, even when they have to deliver achingly corny dialog. Director-cowriter Blythewood seems to have forgotten that his movie is so preposterously unbelievable that no audience was ever going to take it seriously. So weighing it down with a deep and meaningful plot throws it way off balance. In a film about illegal motorbike racers, why bother with a half-hearted romance and a soap opera family-in-crisis storyline? It's watchable, but by the time the high noon finale comes along, it's already drifting from your memory.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 3.Jun.03

dir Reggie Rock Bythewood
scr Craig Fernandez, Reggie Rock Bythewood
with Derek Luke, Laurence Fishburne, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Orlando Jones, Meagan Good, Brendan Fehr, Rick Gonzalez, Larenz Tate, Djimon Hounsou, Kid Rock, Lisa Bonet, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Tyson Beckford, Terrence Dashon Howard, Kadeem Hardison, Eriq La Salle
release US 31.Jan.03; UK 27.Jun.03
03/US 1h40

The line-up, above: Fishburne, Bonet, Luke, Rock and Hounsou.

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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall