“Biker Boyz” is an amazing film, one that successfully performs the difficult task of squandering the talents of Laurence Fishburne and Derek Luke, the excitement of motorcycle racing and the humor of Orlando Jones (“Drumline”). A contrived plot, predictable ending and inconsistent tempo all detract from a movie that has notable individual elements.
One of these notable facets of the film was the acting of Luke (“Antwone Fisher”). Fisher plays Kid, an 18-year-old whose father, Tariq (Eriq La Salle, “Coming to America”), raises him on the “set” – a late-night, underground motorcycle circuit. Luke endows his character with very real indignation, pain and confusion. Luke succeeds because he seems keenly aware of his character’s bifurcating emotions, and he deftly balances Kid’s temper with his vulnerability. Kid is a believable representation of a teenager who has witnessed his father’s death and is left with much ambivalence and little direction.
One night, as Smoke (Fishburne), the “King of Cali” and acknowledged ruler of the set, is racing a challenger, he loses control of his bike, and after hitting a succession of parked motorcycles, his chopper flies through the air, killing Tariq as it propels him through a glass window. Tariq had been the chief mechanic for the Black Knights, Smoke’s motorcycle crew. Following his dad’s passing, Kid starts his own crew, the Biker Boyz, and hones his craft hoping to one day unseat Smoke and avenge his father’s death simultaneously.
Audiences would know even more about the other Boyz had director Reggie Rock Blythewood included more motorcycle racing and stunts. However, save for a montage of artistic riding, there is little showmanship on display and the races on which the film hinges are linear, with the bikers riding from point a to point b without any obstacles or curves.
That absence, in some ways, renders the preeminence of Fishburne’s character unbelievable. Aside from an exquisite bike, there is little that seems to distinguish Smoke. Instead, Fishburne is left to snarl and strut while attempting to exude testosterone.
The rest of the cast is almost obsolete, given their limited lines and sparse screen time. Nineteen eighties and early ’90s pop culture devotees will delight in this film’s eclectic cast, however. Present are Lisa Bonet of “The Cosby Show,” Kadeem Hardison of “A Different World” and Larenz Tate from “Menace II Society.” But, no actor’s reemergence is as exciting as Dante Basco’s, who will likely never top his performance as Rufio, King of the Lost Boys, in “Hook.” Basco and his brother Dion steal a scene.
“Biker Boyz” is not particularly exciting, not particularly funny and not well directed. Many of the scenes meant to develop the characters are slow and do not mesh well with the drama that the race scenes are intended to evoke.