Inspired by a story in the Los Angeles New Times, Biker Boyz introduces film audiences to the little known world of illegal motorcycle street racing. Based on the previews, the movie looks like The Fast and the Furious on two wheels instead of four; however, Boyz relies more on a sentimental father/son story than a thrilling crime plot.
For as long as anyone can remember, Smoke (Laurence Fishburne) has been the undisputed “King of Cali” when it comes to motorbike racing. A lot of his success is due to his mechanic Tariq (Eric La Salle), whose son Jaleel (nicknamed “Kid”) aspires to become a champion racer, just like Smoke. When his father dies in a freak racing accident (he wasn’t even racing), Kid (Antwone Fisher’s Derek Luke) becomes even more determined. He starts by hustling racers for money outside of Smoke’s territory. When he believes he is ready, he returns home and wastes no time making his challenge. To get to Smoke, however, he must first establish himself in the circuit. He starts his own racing club (called the “Biker Boyz,” what else) and starts working his way up through the street racing hierarchy.
As much as this movie strives to be another Fast and the Furious, its focus is off. Whereas Furious was content to be a drive ’em fast, crash ‘em and blow ‘em up movie, Boyz tries to be something it is not. The film’s sentimental story-line distracts from the movie’s promised action. The crashes are un-spectacular and the races themselves are rather straightforward. By going with a more straightforward racing picture, the film also loses the extra intrigue generated by Furious’s cops and robbers plotline.
The movie’s ending also proved very anti-climatic and far too overtly sentimental. I’m also still trying to figure out how everyone watches the final race from the start line, where they couldn’t possibly see the finish, but they still know who won. It seems like a shameless ploy to give its two stars time for a heart to heart.
Just as he did a few months ago in Antwone Fisher, Derek Luke proves he has the potential to become a big star. He doesn’t seem at all intimidated by big stars, going toe for toe with Fishburne, just as he did with Denzel Washington.
Biker Boyz has some good laughs and action, but I expected more thrills. I did enjoy Orlando Jones (as I usually do) as the biker Soul Train, who serves as both Smoke’s M.C. and Kid’s lawyer. I give Biker Boyz a C.