Owen Gleiberman
January 29, 2003 AT 05:00 AM EST

Biker Boyz

Current Status
In Season
111 minutes
Wide Release Date
Laurence Fishburne, Brendan Fehr, Orlando Jones, Derek Luke
guest performer
Kid Rock
Reggie Rock Bythewood
Reggie Rock Bythewood, Craig Fernandez, Michael Gougis
Drama, Sports

We gave it a B

Biker Boyz, a motorcycle drag-race saga set in Southern California, is a blatant re-spin of ”The Fast and the Furious” that also happens to be a far better movie. Consider the way that it lends its hero’s standard nickname a tart dramatic resonance. Derek Luke, the intense young star of ”Antwone Fisher,” sports a shaved head and a look of troubled sleekness to play the loyal and earnest Jaleel, who has lost his father in a freak racing accident. The moment Jaleel appears in the back-alley biker world, riding forth on his souped-up chopper, he’s Kid, a daredevil with an outsize desire to establish his manhood. Luke, a terrific actor, never lets you forget that Kid, in his moody bluster, really is a kid, or that he’s trying far too hard to prove something.

The director, Reggie Rock Bythewood, knows how to shoot the works, but for all of the routine gear shifts in ”Biker Boyz,” he gets the drama working, too, so that there’s something at stake in each of the races. In order to earn the right to compete, Kid forms his own motorcycle club, the multi-ethnic Biker Boyz, and then spends the rest of the film trying to win a race with Smoke (Laurence Fishburne), a midde-aged speedster king who’s at once his rival and role model. The great Fishburne is a wizard at conjuring mystique, whether he’s staring down the upstart Kid or eating Kid Rock, as a scrungy fellow racer, for breakfast.

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