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!