Biker Boyz
Grade: D
Year: 2003
Director: Reggie Rock Bythewood
Writer: Reggie Rock Bythewood
Genre: Action/Drama
Rated: PG-13

Somewhere in the midst of this sinking ship is a story that wants to be told. A story about troubled danger-enthusiasts who escape their dramatic lives through fast-paced motorcycle racing. But what we get instead is a confused movie that doesn't understand the genre. It doesn't understand its targeted audience, and it doesn't understand, that pumped up movies aren't supposed to put you to sleep.

In "Biker Boyz," the LA streets are ruled by the Black Knights, a motorcycle gang led by Smoke (Laurence Fishburne). The only true competition to the Black Knights are the strays, bikers who aren't affiliated with a formal gang or racing team. One in particular is Dogg (Kid Rock), one of the few white guys and one of the few who will try to defeat Smoke for the crown as racing king.

The main character is Kid (Derek Luke), an aspiring biker who thinks he has what it takes to play with the big boys. Unfortunately, this movie gives Kid very little opportunities to show off. Boggled down by politics and a mother who refuses to allow her son to race, "Biker Boyz" is forced to go down a road of broken promises, domestic drama, and everything else you don't want in an action movie. "The Fast And The Furious" had a separate story underneath the main plot, but it was clearly separated from the racing. In "Furious," we were given a love story and presented with themes of trust and deception, but unlike "Biker Boyz," we also got to see a lot of racing!

"Biker Boyz" is lazy; almost geriatric compared to the much more inspiring "The Fast and the Furious." The racers in "Boyz" are old and out of touch. Fishburne looks like a chaperone to a bunch of young and rebellious bikers, and what the hell is ER's Dr. Benton (Eriq La Salle) doing in this movie, playing Slick Will, Smoke's mechanic? Another unneeded character is Soul Train (Orlando Jones) the mouth of the group. The only significant purpose he serves is to insult Smoke's opponents, doing his best to intimidate them. His banter begs for hype as there isn't any coming from any other part of the movie, but we just want him to shut up.

The only way Kid will be able to prove himself, is to start is own gang. He and two others, Stuntman (Brendan Fehr) and Primo (Rick Gonzalez), officially start up the Biker Boyz, and by the end of the film (we never learn how or why) the membership has grown enormously.

Beneath all the drama, fighting and silly romance, is the racing. Our hero Kid hits the track--count 'em; only twice. And in both races, the camera is either too distant or too close. Director/writer Reggie Rock Bythewood, and his cinematographer Greg Gardiner were too distracted with the surrounding environments. Whenever a biker would pull off a stunt or a wheelie, the camera would be focused on a horse, the dirt path, or the spectators behind the bikers.

There are no thrills, and because of the horrible camerawork, nothing is remotely breathtaking or worth seeing again. When the action fails, the movie roughly transits to the clichéd part of the story. Kid is attracted to a girl named Tina (Meagan Good). At first we see her as an abrasive tattoo artist who doesn’t date rookies or wise-cracking kids, but she eventually becomes innocently attached to him. But frankly, we don't care much about the unlikable characters.

So what is there to "Biker Boyz" if not the racing? Try endless story. We find out (sort of) who Kid's real father is, and we unwillingly watch Kid blowup at people he doesn't like. We see a lot of fist fighting, and a lot of argumentation. If it's not a personal rant we're listening to, then it's the mouth of Soul Train rapping about how Biker Boyz really want to be Black Knights for whatever reason. Nothing he says is worth paying attention to.

The movie has a good cast, but they don't belong in this movie, at least not Fishburne, Jones, La Salle, and Kid Rock. Well, maybe Kid Rock belongs here. I was unimpressed with Derek Luke, who was outstanding in his debut in "Antwone Fisher." He was given little room to motivate and no shot at pumping up the audience outside of his short speech where he declares to his crew, "Biker Boyz, we set our own rules!" What rules, exactly? That, we don't know because the Black Knights seem to regulate the game, including how much you can gamble and what is forfeited by the loser.

In terms of story and plot, "Biker Boyz" has the elements of a great soap opera. I can see where Bythewood was trying to take this. He wanted to take a different approach and wrote a different story to cater it. It worked, but the results ultimately backfired. Kid's uneasy relationship with Smoke could have been the extra padding to the action and special effects, but it was in our face and uninteresting. Apparently the story was inspired by a New York Times article, and I believe it restricted Bythewood from doing anything creative.

In terms of the photography, "Biker Boyz" is too artsy. The field where the final race takes place is beautiful. But there is no audience and there is no hype. Instead, we see a bunch of horses on a farm, and a patch of dust that rises off the dirt path as soon as the bikes rip through it at top speed. And in that rising dust is us the audience, wishing we were watching "The Fast And The Furious."

But there I was, anticipating something great at the finish. I was waiting for my reward for enduring such a boring and tedious film. I was waiting for the eye opener. But when the final race ended, I left the theatre having just witnessed the most anti-climactic finish I've ever seen for a movie about racing.

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