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Review

DRIVE review

You know... Every now and again somebody somewhere sends me a video tape that I have absolutely no expectations for, and it kicks my ass.

DRIVE... Well... It kicked my ass.

First off, this is a film that went straight to video here in the United States, and ya know.... It shouldn’t have. It’s vastly entertaining. The dialogue and the action is way sharper than any of the Jean Claude Van Damme films and most of the Steven Seagal schlock.

It stars a bunch of ‘never heard of ems’ and is directed by another ‘never heard of him.’ And because it is sooooo low profile, it comes in and kicks your ass.

Remember Dwayne Wayne from A DIFFERENT WORLD? Well, he plays a Chris Tucker type and Mark Dacascos plays the Jackie Chan/Jet Li type. It’s a film that is actually even a bit more fun than RUSH HOUR, though it’s production values are significantly less.

In fact, it’s production values tend to resemble those of a ShowTime Original flick. However there is one aspect of this film that shreds all of it’s ‘typical’ trappings.

The Stunt Choreographer, Koichi Sakamoto. Holy Shit. The stunts and the fights in this movie are sooooo good, that I’ll hold them right up alongside some of the work of Woo-Ping Yuen, though his work in FIST OF LEGEND is quite honestly legendary.

I guess, one of the reasons this stunt choreography took me by such surprise was that... I wasn’t really expecting it. I mean. When I saw Koichi’s name, I recognized it from SPACE TRUCKERS which I have been a huge fan of, but... The fights in Space Truckers while being pretty cool, were no where near the Coolness of these.

In fact, because I had just recently come from seeing THE BLACK MASK starring Jet Li, I was expecting to be less than excited by this, but... MAN... I really had a blast with the two HOTEL fight sequences.

Both Hotel scenes can be played over and over and over again. There is this one maneuver where the guy bounces past a bed, uses the wall to change direction, then kicks the shit of the guy behind him that made me feel like my jaw had just come unhinged. OUCH!

Then there’s this badass placekick in the face that just left everyone in the room just massaging their chin to see if it was still there.

It’s strange, I’ve recently been hearing that Bryan Singer has been looking for a fight choreographer for X-MEN, but had to pass on Woo-Ping Yuen and Ray Parks.... Well, if you are looking for someone that is fresh and cool as hell, I think Koichi is the man. I’m dying to see what he does next.

Meanwhile, though the fighting is awesome in this film, there are some other areas that really shine.

Scott Phillip’s script is very fun. The verbal dueling of the lead bad guy and Tracey “BOB THE GOON” Walter is priceless. And frankly, any movie with Miller from REPO MAN is a goody. I mean... Tracey Walter is quickly becoming another Dick Miller for me.

Then there is the utterly adorable Brittany Murphy (who you may remember as Tai from CLUELESS or as the voice of Luanne in KING OF THE HILL) who literally steals whole sequences from the action. She is just so friggin happy to be shooting at people that... She transcends the film. She’s a bored little cutie that never gets to do anything, until.... NOW and now that she can do something she’s gonna do it all. What a pure little bit of joy. She’s in alot of films coming up this year, so let’s see if she ends up breaking out of anonymity.

Well... Keep your eyes out for the film. The video box is kinda lame, but the movie isn’t. It’s not a great film, but it is great fun. Far better than it has any right to be for a straight to video. I would have loved to have seen this at Midnight with a drunk audience.

Everyone I saw this with.... Tom Joad, Annette Kellerman and Father Geek enjoyed the hell out of it!

Readers Talkback
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  • May 31, 1999, 1:41 a.m. CST

    A little backstory on this flick

    by Evil Dead

    This movie has been around for quite a while. This actually premiered on HBO a couple of years ago before hitting video a few months later. It was part of HBO's "Friday Night Premiere" package. I thought the movie was pretty cool. However, it did approve on the fight scenes of Rush Hour(it's supposed to Dacascos' character has bionic implants) it certainly is not funnier. Although Walter and the other bad guy are funny, it's the two leads and Brittney Murphy that are groaners. Everytime they cut to a scene of Murphy trying to be comic relief it slows the action down to a crawl. She is cute in this, but her character is out of place. Both Kadeem Hardison and Mark Dacascos do rise above the obligatory one-liners and set-ups. What surprises me is Dacascos' fighting. Even though a stunt man is used in some scenes, he does manage to rank himself up with Hong Kong's biggest and brightest. A big step above his usual direct to video crap(Double Dragon, Sanctuary, DNA, etc.). There have been other direct to cable and video martial arts movie that have great chereography. Two such films are Bloodmoon and Superfighters. Both films have terrible scripts and acting, but have showstooping fight scenes. If you liked Drive then seek these out. I hope that future low budget movies follow the lead of these. Forever gone are the Seagal and Van Damme inspired crap(Bloodfist 1-8, Best fo the Best 1-4, China O'Brien 1&2,etc.).

  • May 31, 1999, 7:40 a.m. CST

    Listen To This Man!!!!

    by Johnny Bartlet

    Congratulations on stumbling upon one of the best movies that nobody has ever heard of. Occasionally, while toiling away on the computer in the wee hours of the morning, one can actually witness, from the corner of their eyes... A GOOD MOVIE ON CABLE! Tremors 2 was one of these, and Drive graced my television screen about a year or so ago, as I was trying to finish up project for work. Well, I didn't finish the project for work, wanting instead to savor some truly mind-bogglingly well choreographed fight scenes. Yeah, they are ridiculous, and don't follow the rules of gravity, but talk about fun factor! I was EXTREMELY happy when this movie was finally available on video. THIS MOVIE IS, AT BARE MINIMUM, WORTH THROWING DOWN A FEW BUCKS TO RENT, FOLKS!!!!!

  • May 31, 1999, 11:45 a.m. CST

    Drive, Indeed!

    by TheMage

    This is one of the most enjoyable movies to go straight to video in some time. Mark Decascos and Kadeem Hardison make a good team. Brittany Murphy was absolutely hysterical in this too! She's set to go off when she gets some high profile parts. Catch her in Freeway also, with Reese Witherspoon. She plays the girl in prison who likes to cut herself. Good dialogue, humor and action...what more are you looking for? This is a 7 on the B-movie scale Harry. Throughly entertaining!

  • May 31, 1999, 6:55 p.m. CST

    Director's Cut

    by DJ Don

    If you can locate the "Director's Cut" of Drive, it contains footage of every fan's best friend, Bob Burns, in some funny-as-hell cameos. Director Steve Wang ran it a WonderFest in Louisville last year, and the crowd loved it. The longer version is available on DVD, and hopefully on video from Simitar in the near future. Even more of a good thing. DJ Don say check it out!

  • June 1, 1999, 6:24 a.m. CST

    Freeman

    by Renshai

    Another decent Mark Dacascos film is the Manga based ' Freeman ' which has Blade style fight/gun/sword scenes (without the exploding body parts). This was actually given a theatrical release here ( Scotland) but wasn't there for long. I took my wife along to see it, who isn't normally into this genre of film but she really enjoyed it. Worth checking out !

  • June 1, 1999, 6:39 a.m. CST

    DVD version is NOT dir's cut. At least in N.America.

    by Wesley Snipes

    I have the Simitar DVD version (USA region 1) and as far as I can tell, it's exactly the same as the video release found in all the blockbusters. I heard that the soundtrack score was changed for the edited version (vhs), and I note that the DVD has the same soundtrack. Perhaps the uncut DVD is available in other parts of the world? There are no fight scenes lost in the regular version though, so it's not a big deal.

  • June 2, 1999, 10:08 a.m. CST

    Where's the soundtrack?

    by Coma_1

    I bought the VHS release of Drive (after seeing it on cable, hoping to find out more info on the music used during the fight sequnces ( especially the last one). I was told that a soundtrack for this movie was never released. The credits' font at the end is too small and fuzzy to read on my screen as to who performed the music. Can anyone help out by letting me know what bands or individuals made the industrial/metal music? or at least point me in the right direction as to where to find that information out?... thanks..

  • June 2, 1999, 8:43 p.m. CST

    The Director/ Soundtrack

    by nolanliang

    The director's name is Steven Wang. You have almost certainly seen his work before, though not as a director. He's the guy that sculpted the Predator's head and Batman's mask. As for movies directed by the man, you might want to check out his third attempt, Guyver 2: Dark Hero(based off the manga, Guyver). I'm not sure if he had the same choreographer, but you'll notice some similarities. The fights rely more on wires than in Drive, but the Guyver's costume is too cool to miss(I believe he made all the costumes). As for the soundtrack, even on my DVD the songs are hard to read. It lists 19 tracks and all I can read are the names. If you are really that interested, email me at nolanliang@yahoo.com and I can give you the track listing.

  • June 6, 1999, 9:25 p.m. CST

    Drive Comments & Web Site

    by lazlo_nibble

    Man, it sure is cool to see Drive getting some attention from people after all these years (!). It's true that there really isn't any more action to speak of in the original version, but anybody who liked Tracey Walter or the Mark & Kadeem character stuff should see if they can track down a tape of the longer cut. The overseas rights were sold before they started slicing out everything that wasn't a fight scene in an attempt to get US distribution, so pretty much everyone else in the world saw a lot more of the funny parts. I've put up a li'l Drive-related web page on my site at http://www.studio-nibble.com/drive, so anyone who has anything to add should drop on by. // By the way, my favorite other Steve Wang movie is still Kung-Fu Rascals. Stupid funny, and a great example of what skilled people can put on film with no budget to speak of.

  • June 14, 1999, 5:39 p.m. CST

    Drive

    by Indican

    Drive is a hell of a lot of fun!! I was very disappointed by First Look Films decision to dump it straight to cable and video. I worked on a film that was scoring music at the same time as DRIVE -- I thought Drive was great. Brittany Murphy was also in another cool film -- FREEWAY. She plays the weird girl who tries to have sex with Reese Witherspoon, Jay

  • June 16, 1999, 8:50 p.m. CST

    These fights rock!!!

    by Reverand NHB

    The fight scenes in this film are unbelievable. Koichi is an amazing choreographer. Check out The Guyver 2. Altough both these films have some flaws the fight scenes are some of the best you have ever seen. Steve Wang was supposed to direct the Power Rangers film.

  • Oct. 5, 1999, 10:30 a.m. CST

    DRIVE

    by gmg

    They return. Steve Wang will direct and Mark Dacascos star in "Kick, Kick, and Kick, Again" with Koichi Sakamoto back as the stunt and fight coordinator. Will start shooting later this year. More will follow.

  • July 28, 2006, 10:53 p.m. CST

    "Hi, I'm Steve Wang. STOP LAUGHING AT MY NAME!"

    by Wolfpack

    "I come from a long line of Wangs."