With more than 50 years in the business and more than 375 movies, Roger Corman's busier than ever. He recently signed a pretty sweet deal with Buena (Disney) Vista that'll bring most of his old cheese-balls to DVD, and his New Concorde schlock-house seems to be chugging along quite smoothly.
Unfortunately, the movies aren't so hot. Corman's recent output includes action flicks (Barbarian), war stories (The Hunt for Eagle One), and downright silliness (DinoCroc). But Mr. Corman likes to cover all his bases, which explains why he's also producing "urban" titles like Rage and Discipline and Asphalt Wars.
Packaged like The Fast and the Furious but not really all that similar to Universal's slick franchise, Asphalt Wars is about a young car-whiz named Reno who has dreams of racing in the "big circuit," but must hustle on the illegal street races in order to earn the cash. After running afoul of a local gang, infuriating his long-suffering uncle, and romancing the ONE girl he should be avoiding, he's involved in a nasty wreck that gets him wrapped up in one crazy heist plan.
Plot-wise, Asphalt Wars is nothing if not familiar, although points to writer/director Henry Crum for trying to wedge all the "good stuff" into one brief, and very low-budget, little movie.
But despite any good intentions, Asphalt Wars is an amateurish mess from its opening scene. The acting is uniformly flat and unconvincing, the racing sequences are outrageously cheap-looking, and the whole flick looks like it was shot on a streetcorner with my grandfather's old Handycam. You could suffer through a lot of technical deficiencies if a flick has something fresh or exciting to offer, but Asphalt Wars is yet another "urban racer" flick that employs only the oldest, hairiest, and most reliable cliches, plot points, and stereotypes.
Video: A flat, fuzzy, and altogether ugly fullscreen transfer.
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, which you'll have to bump up a few notches if you'll want to hear the dialogue. Fortunately there are (English, Spanish, French) subtitles included.
Extras: Buena Vista trailers.
Corman's flicks are at their best when a "tongue-in-cheek" attitude is employed; when the guy bankrolls straight drama, the result is usually a dreary little sleeping pill.