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DRIVE (1997) ***

Ryan Kenner over at Movies in the Attic (http://moviesintheattic.blogspot.com/) hooked me up with a bunch of cool flicks that I’ll be reviewing over the next couple of weeks. I know a lot of people lamented that I didn’t review Drive when I did my Legends of the Silver Screen post for Mark Dacascos. Luckily, Kenner had my back and sent this out to me.

First off, this shouldn’t be confused with the recently released critical darling starring Ryan Gosling. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’ll begin with the customary plot description. Mark Dacascos stars as a bio-engineered human on the run from his Chinese benefactors. Along the way, he bumps into barfly Kadeem Hardison and the two winds up shackled together while the bad guys chase after them. Together they form an uneasy alliance and stop the villains from putting Dacascos on the scrap heap.

I’m gonna get the bad stuff out of the way first. We’re just gonna rip it off fast like a Band-Aid so it’ll sting less. First off, as great as a lot of the film is, Drive is uneven and goofy as all get out. There are some borderline brilliant sequences that are followed up by some really inane shit. Then there’s the music, which has to be some of the worst I’ve ever heard. Take for instance the scene in the car where Dacascos is basically explaining a lot of exposition to Hardison. As he’s doing so, a bunch of annoying hip hop music starts blaring on the soundtrack, just about drowning out his dialogue. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a problem, but I do have to call foul when the music disrupts a major plot point.

Okay, I got that off my chest.

Sure, not all of Drive works, but there’s some downright awesome stuff here. The flick was directed by Steve (The Guyver) Wang so you know there’s gonna be some pretty crazy Kung Fu scenes. What I liked about the action sequences was that they were filled with energy and style and had a very Hong Kong vibe to them. For example, the scene where Dacascos and Hardison get handcuffed together is very reminiscent of Project A 2. There’s also some badass fights (like when Dacascos does battle with a bunch of dudes on dirt bikes), some bizarre touches (like the scene where Dacascos uses boots for boxing gloves), and a couple of jaw-dropping “HOLY SHIT” moments (like the bit with the chainsaw), to make it highly recommended. Sure, there may be some valleys in between the peaks, but those peaks are like Everest, baby.

Dacascos and Hardison make a great team. They really should’ve done a whole series of these. My favorite moment of theirs comes near the end where Dacascos’ awful one-liner stops Hardison dead in his tracks. Dacascos also gets to belt out a show-stopping karaoke number too; adding to the film’s WTF factor.

Special Note: this movie was written by Scott Phillips, whose book Unsafe on Any Screen is required reading for any cult movie fan.

Comments

( 7 comments — Comment )
collectedcinema
Feb. 16th, 2012 09:27 am (UTC)
Love. Love. Love this movie. You're right it is pretty goofy but the fights are top notch and memorable. Dacascos has never kicked so much a$$, Kareem Hardison is funny without being annoying and Pyper-Ferguson and Walter Tracy make a bizarre pair of villains.

Did you watch the 100 minute edit or the 117 minute director's cut?
thevideovacuum
Feb. 16th, 2012 04:30 pm (UTC)
I think it was the 100 min. version. This is definitely one I'll be revisiting soon. My gripes with it will probably vanish upon repeated viewings.
collectedcinema
Feb. 16th, 2012 08:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah, it holds up to repeat viewings. I remember the first time I saw I thought the Walter the Einstein Frog TV show was pretty weird but it's funnier the more you watch it.

Got to say the exemplary stunt work is the Alpha Stunts Team. The recently did another kick-a$$ movie called Broken Path (or Broken Fist in some territories). Check that out if you like this film.
MartyMcKee
Feb. 16th, 2012 04:32 pm (UTC)
Sounds like you watched the pan-and-scan R1 DVD. The Director's Cut is not only longer with more character scenes, but it also has a different and much better score. The U.S producers really screwed up this release. I bet you'd give the LBX Dir. Cut four stars.
thevideovacuum
Feb. 16th, 2012 04:37 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I'll have to track it down sometime in the near future!
comeuppancereviews.com
Feb. 18th, 2012 03:54 am (UTC)
Love the karaoke bit. That was hilarious. Plus the movie is pretty rad too.
dtvconnoisseur
Feb. 18th, 2012 02:42 pm (UTC)
I think the bigger thing about this one for me is that it shows what Dacascos is capable of as a martial artist, and makes me want to see more of that in his other films-- and unfortunately, it isn't always the case. Glad Kenner hooked you up though (a reader hooked me up with mine a couple years ago-- shame this is out of print!).
( 7 comments — Comment )

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