Biker Boyz
Dreamworks // PG-13 // $26.98 // June 10, 2003
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted June 5, 2003
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The Movie:

For a movie with one of the cheesiest titles in ages, "Biker Boyz" actually managed to attract some considerable talent, most notably Laurence Fishburne of "The Matrix" and numerous other fine roles. "Biker"'s story is apparently based upon a magazine article, as was the "Fast and the Furious". However, this picture simply seems based upon the success of the other picture. Although other pictures in other genres have certainly offered their own spin on former successes, there's nothing worse than a picture that appears to be cheaply thrown together to capitalize on the success of a former one. "Biker Boyz" also hits video shelves the same week as the "Fast and Furious" sequel.

As noted, "Biker Boyz" has certainly attracted a fine cast, but the screenplay is lousy and although the performances try to exceed the material, some of the performances show awareness of the speed the script's running at. The film stars Derek Luke ("Antwone Fisher) as Kid, a young man whose mechanic father father (Eriq LaSalle) is killed in an accident during a race that opens the film. Kid blames ace bike racer Smoke (Fishburne), and sets out to become the best biker there is...or something like that.

Nearly plotless, "Biker Boyz" simply is a series of races with some additional melodrama woven in. Kid races, Kid gets a group together, Kid wins more money, Kid prepares for the final race. None of this holds much interest at all, as the low-budget picture doesn't seem to have enough money to create much of a look to either the dialogue-driven scenes or the races. The races, rather poorly cut together and inexplicably scored by a slow R & B track, are rather dull affairs that don't capture the speed of the races very well at all. To make matters worse, "Biker Boyz" takes itself ridiculously seriously, making it even more tedious to sit through.

I have respect for many of the performers, although none of them fare particularly well with the one-note material. Fishburne does best, making something out of lines that can get awfully silly at times. Derek Luke, very good as the title character in "Antwone Fisher", doesn't make Kid much of a character, but to be fair, there's not much of a character to play in the first place. Kid Rock - yes, Kid Rock the musician - shows up in a few scenes as the villian of the piece. Given a better screenplay, he could probably be a decent actor, if just playing bad guys. Orlando Jones, surprisingly good in a subtle performance in "Drumline", is largely wasted here.

While not a biker, I'm impressed with their world. The best bikes are remarkably tweaked out, full of features of which I'm sure I'll never understand, and have a ton of power behind them. There is an interesting movie to be made about this community. This isn't that movie. There's really no story here, and the what drama there is is cliched and completely not compelling. The races aren't even that well done. Needless to say, I was bored at less than half an hour in, and it only got more disinterested as things proceeded.


VIDEO: "Biker Boyz" is presented by Dreamworks in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation is just fine - no more, no less. Sharpness and definition are merely satisfactory; most scenes appear crisp and rather clear, but the night scenes are simply too dark and lack depth and detail.

A few other flaws are scattered about: some mild edge enhancement becomes visible in a few of the daylight scenes. While never too serious, it is a bit of a distraction. Some instances of pixelation are spotted, too, as are a few specks on the print used. The film occasionally offers some brighter colors, but there's usually nothing too vibrant about the film's look.

SOUND: "Biker Boyz" is presented by Dreamworks in both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. One of the reasons why "Fast and the Furious", despite its flaws, was so successful, was its sound design. That film boasted a remarkably powerful, impressively enveloping sound mix that put viewers into the middle of the racing experience. It even mixed the music discretely around the room to add more energy.

"Biker Boyz" certainly doesn't boast the same level of sound design. The races have some ineffective sound effects coming from the rear speakers and some reinforcement of the music, but it doesn't succeed at putting the viewer into the scene. The other issue is that the music is presented entirely too loud and bassy in the mix, while the dialogue is too soft, leading to a fair amount of unwanted volume adjustment throughout the picture. English/French/Spanish subtitles are offered, as is a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track and English Dolby 2.0 track.

EXTRAS: Deleted scenes, "making of" featurette, cast/crew bios, ads for Chris Rock's occasionally very funny "Head of State", "Deliver Us From Eva", "Fast and the Furious: Tricked Out Edition" and "Old School"; production notes and photo gallery.

Final Thoughts: "Biker Boyz" goes on for a long, long 111 minutes. Laurence Fishburne turns in a fine performance, but the screenplay is terrible and the action isn't very well-filmed. Dreamworks has put together a satisfactory DVD, with a few special features and fine audio/video. Not recommended.

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