As you probably know, I have a bit of a soft spot for The Asylum's productions. Almost all of the time I find them so bad, they're good. So with one of their latest offerings
(Street Racer), I expected more of the same awful dialogue, hammy acting, lesbians, bad sound production and cheap effects. However, this time it seems, things are slightly different. Gone are the names of actors above the title. This would indicate that no-one of note is actually acting in the piece. Despite the similarities to the recent Wachowski Brothers
movie Speed Racer, it shares more in common with The Fast and the Furious (FATF). The fact is, for this to have been on par with FATF it didn't have to do much. The essentials would be as follows:
- They should have found someone who can act better than (or as well as) Vin Diesel
- It should have silly cars with big spoilers on the back
- Most of the time, the male characters should ignore any female in close proximity
- It should have a bunch of twats idiots, driving like twats idiots on public highways
- It should have an obvious evil character
- We have to empathise with the main character
Well, I can tell you that Clint Browning IS a better actor than Vin Diesel. There are a few silly cars (hidden amongst the odd BMW). Of the two main females
in the movie, only one is ignored. There are a bunch of idiots driving like idiots. The evil character is very obvious and you do (believe it or not) empathise with the main character. What's going wrong? I genuinely enjoyed this movie.
So, the main character Johnny Wayne has just gotten out of prison for a driving offence and his probation officer is a man who thinks he can blackmail him into illegal street racing (boo! Very pantomime
like). Johnny is set up with a job working a at a scrap yard with the funniest mechanic
character (called Red) this writer has seen in any "car movie". The fact is, you could probably guess
the rest of the story. What you couldn't guess
is how strangely appealing it is. The probation office scene is genuinely good to watch, the probation (or is that "parole") officer is suitably nasty and the friend-turned-bad (Jason Ellefson) has crazy eyes and is suitably off his rocker.
The girls include a sister dedicated to getting her brother out of his wheelchair (the saint) and a bimbo (the sinner). Where do they find these actresses willing to play bimbos? Surely there can't be an Angelina Jolie lookalike school in L.A can there?
Not all is good though, Browning's acting is a bit shakey as he starts out, but progresses nicely, the "voice-in-the-head" scenes are laughable. It sounds as if the person is shouting through a closed window. If you are a foreigner (like me) watching this movie you'd think that Americans use the exclamation "Woo!" far too many times as if they had spent their entire childhood watching repeats of the Dukes of Hazzard. The fact that anyone is prepared to race "for pink slips" between an 80's BMW against a new minivan is silly. There are some very bad sped-up moments (on a go-kart track) that just look out of place. The accident at the beginning of the movie quite obviously uses an already wrecked car. Along with this list, there are not many cars. Some would say this is a big problem and in truth I never witnessed any vehicle that even slightly resembles the cars on the front cover of the DVD (see pic). Nevertheless, I enjoyed it. It was silly fun.
So of this movie that stars a Sawyer (off Lost) lookalike, a crazy-eyed nutter, an evil probation officer, a kid in a wheelchair, a mechanic
with all the best lines and a bimbo with only one line ("Hey Johnny"), what score should I give it? How on earth do you rate a car movie when you know it wasn't as slick as the one it's attempting to mimic (FATF)? There are no clever camera shots showing the mechanisms that allow the racer to inject NOS into his engine. There are not as many cars as in the Fast and the Furious films. However, if you stripped away the budget from The Fast and the Furious, you'd be left with a worse movie than this. It is better than all of the Fast and the Furious movies because it is more bothered about character development. Yes, I did actually say that! You need to watch this film, thinking it's going to be a cheap knock-off and you may find yourself surprised and I guarantee that females are more likely to enjoy this movie better than FATF.
I'm still not sure why it is "based on true events". Perhaps it is accepting that illegal street racing goes on around the world. In that case, I would accept that The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is "based on true events" because it is true that some of us Brits are pompous and stuck in our ways (not me, honestly).
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
(Not quite as great as some, but this is because it did something different than a usual Asylum movie. It dared to be good. For that, I applaud them).