Movie Review by Neils Hesse
Starring: Laurence Fishburne, Derek Luke, Orlando Jones, Djimon Hounsou
Director: Reggie Rock Bythewood
Smoke (Laurence Fishburne) is the undisputed ‘King Of Cali’. He is the motorbike racing champion of the illegal racing competitions that are held by biking enthusiasts. Smoke never rides without the approval of his revered mechanic Tariq (Eriq La Salle). However Tariq’s son Jaleel (Derek Luke), an upcoming biker a.k.a. Kid who thinks very little of Smoke, cynically assumes that his father does whatever Smoke says but eventually discovers a very different reason for his father’s actions.
A horrific accident causes Tariq’s death, which so infuriates Kid, it drives him to rashly challenge Smoke to a race. Smoke advises him to go out and do some serious racing before he takes him on so Kid forms an underground club with his friends and other motorbike enthusiasts. Kid’s club quickly becomes very popular and he succeeds in improving his natural skill. However his intense racing is increasingly causing concern for his mother Anita (Vanessa Bell), who doesn’t want to lose him so she forbids him from racing.
After a dare to race the second fastest man behind Smoke – Dogg (Kid Rock) – Kid is forced to race again. Anita finds out about this challenge and out of desperation approaches Smoke and reveals to him a secret about her son that she has hidden from everyone. Smoke immediately stops the race between Kid and Dogg, which only causes Kid to hate Smoke even more. Eventually after many races and disagreements the climax is reached when Smoke and Kid race against each other, leading to an interesting conclusion. Smoke finally realises something that had eluded him for probably all his life and Kid in turn begins to see things in a different light.
Laurence Fishburne excels in his portrayal of Smoke expertly balancing his character’s self-confidence and formidable capability with a maturity and understanding that is surprisingly very giving. Upcoming actor Derek Luke skilfully handles the aggression that his character requires and all the supporting performances are well executed in particular Vanessa Bell as the loving mother.
Reggie Rock Bythewood’s directing is adequate overall but could have been improved with more character development between the two leads – Smoke and Kid. The script is also at fault and would have been enhanced by allowing for more human drama coupled with the motorbike action. Despite this BIKER BOYZ is a good action, drama that tackles a very real issue in an extreme but effective manner.