Biker Boyz

2003, Movie, PG-13, 111 mins


Loosely based on a New Times article by Michael Gougis, this film offers a look at Southern California motorcycle clubs that's both dizzying and ultimately disappointing. Director Reggie Rock Bythewood's intention appears to have been to transform what could have been THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS on motorcycles into a modern-day Western, making leather-clad rider Smoke (Laurence Fishburne) — the "King of Cali" — the fastest gun in this underground sub-culture. As leader of the Black Knights, he arrives for every illegal street race with nearly imperial fanfare and a full posse of riders bearing the club's colors. His entourage includes outspoken booster Soul Train (Orlando Jones), who extols Smoke's victories and virtues to the masses, and trusted mechanic Slick Will (Eriq La Salle), whose son, Kid (Derek Luke) — an aspiring street rider trying to earn his colors — hates the way dad hides in Smoke's shadow. When Will is killed in a motorcycle accident as surprising as it is graphic, Kid's animosity towards Smoke increases exponentially. The angry young man sets out to form his own club, the eclectic, multi-cultural Biker Boyz, whose members include white daredevil Stuntman (Brendan Fehr); eager-to-please Latino Primo (Rick Gonzalez); and Filipino brothers Philly and Flip (Dante and Dion Basco), who mostly stick to four-wheel off-road vehicles. Kid's quest to dethrone Smoke is his paramount concern, but he makes time to woo sexy tattoo artist Tina (Meagan Good), whose brother belongs to a rival club, and avoid the wrath of his mother, Anita (Vanessa Bell Calloway), who's determined to stop him from competing. Everything comes to a head at the Black Knights' big dance, a gathering of all the local clubs at which Anita confronts Smoke with a show-stopping revelation. Chrome-and-hot-leather groupies who are starting to worry that the movie is excessively character driven can relax. There are plenty of gratuitous shots of scantily clad biker babes — including the requisite bikini car wash — and speed-freak boys with six-pack abs pumping their vehicles to outrageous, nitrous oxide-fueled extremes. The bad news is that the racing scenes are repetitive and it takes some serious concentration to figure out which character belongs to what club. Fishburne and Luke do their best with inherently limited material, but only Calloway's no-nonsense single mother really rises above the roar of engines and the smell of burning rubber. leave a comment --Angel Cohn

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