14 March 2002 | david.thomas41
The best Hong Kong film made somewhere else
American-born director and FX makeup man Steve Wang hooked up with Power Rangers stunt guru Koichi Sakamoto to make Guyver 2, a Japanese manga-inspired sci-fi movie with martial arts. Their next collaboration was Drive, a low-budget hi-tech action movie that has gained quite a following on DVD.
The movie stars Hawaiian martial arts genius Mark Dacascos as Toby, a guy on the run from the evil corporation that killed his girlfriend and implanted him with a 'Bio-engine', a device that gives Toby superhuman strength and speed. Arriving in America he enlists the reluctant help of Malik (Kadeem Hardison) and the two cross America in Malik's increasingly beat-up hot rod. Along the way there are a few laughs, a touch of romance, the occasional shootout and, oh yes, kung fu. Lots and lots of kung fu.
To be honest the plot is really just a way to get from one action scene to the next, but when the action is as good as this who cares? Wang, Sakamoto and Dacascos (is it me or does that sound like the world's weirdest legal firm?) have come up with some of the finest fight action you'll see in a film made outside Hong Kong. Dacascos proves he is every bit as flexible and forceful as Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Jackie Chan and the rest, while fight master Sakamoto is no less talented than Yuen Woo Ping or Cory Yuen Kuei. It's quite sickening that Dacascos is mostly confined to 10th-rate direct to video movies while overweight personal trainers and ballet dancers like Steven Seagull and Jean Claude Van Donut still manage to get cast in big-budget theatrical releases (well, maybe not Jean Claude anymore).
Fans of The Matrix will no doubt get a kick out of the lightning-fast moves and vaguely sci-fi setting (although it's worth noting that this film predates The Matrix by several years). Anyone looking for no-brainer popcorn entertainment that is actually good will also find much to enjoy.
Note: the US release of this film was cut by about 20 minutes and re-scored with a shockingly bad hip-hop soundtrack. The director's cut, available on UK DVD, is much better and worth seeking out.