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Movie Review

Director Reggie Rock Bythewood wants you to believe that Biker Boyz is a Western on wheels full of "cool, street-smart, modern-day cowboys." What it really is, is a two-wheeled takeoff on the success of The Fast and the Furious. The idea for the film got started in an article written by freelance journalist Michael Gougis for the now-defunct Los Angeles New Times. He wrote about the hidden world of African American motorcycle clubs in Southern California. The movie puts pictures to his words. Instead of a penetrating look at the inner workings of a world most of us never see, though, all the movie gives us is a series of haphazardly connected motorcycle races and an overdose of heavily-tattooed testosterone.

The leader of the pack is Smoke. He’s been the "King of Cali" for a long, long time. Too long for the likes of Kid, a brash young upstart eager to claim the Black Knights crown. Twenty-nine or 30 races later, Kid and Smoke are squared off for the ultimate skirmish for supremacy. Sounds wearily familiar, doesn’t it? A patchwork of subplots litter the track behind them, but there’s very little that matters other than a young punk and an old punk hammering away at each other’s pride.

positive elements: The bond between a father and son. Rivalry and neglect can’t sever the ties that bind. The thread is thin and contrived (too many races and too much showboating get in the way), but the message emerges: Blood runs thicker than oil.

spiritual content: One of the Black Knights has a habit of putting the superiority of his club’s "president" in spiritual terms. "Glory be to God," he shouts at the gathered crowd before a race. "Get down on your knees and bow that a-- down." Later, he claims that Smoke’s ability to focus on the finish line is a gift from God.

nudity and sexual content: Microscopic miniskirts. Bikinis. Bare backsides. Women play a dual role here, as objects of desire when the party’s going good, and as a sort of security blanket, or comforting companion, when times are tough. Smoke is legendary for lovin’ and leavin’. Yet because of his status, the girls keep lining up for more. Barely 18 years old, Kid is already living with his girlfriend. The two of them are shown in bed a couple of times (nothing explicit; just a tangle of arms and legs). Smoke’s current squeeze, Queenie, is seen getting a tattoo on her rear. One of Kid’s buddies talks about racing a woman rider for sex (he says she handcuffed him to the bed and then had her cronies beat him up and rob him). When he relates the story to his pals, they laugh uproariously. There are scenes of deep kissing and several sly references to various kinds of sex acts.

violent content: Where there are races, there are wrecks. Early in the film, Smoke’s mechanic dies (blood pools around his battered head). Another man is crippled. Of course that does nothing to drain the adrenaline from the rest of the riders. Instead, it seems to accelerate their daredevil bravado. A bar brawl rages out of control as fists and elbows fly indiscriminately. Kid and Smoke duke it out. A fight with a rival club ends with a gun being shoved in Kid’s face.

crude or profane language: One f-word and nearly 20 s-words. "A--," "d--n," and "b--ch" are uttered frequently (more than 50 times). God’s name is misused.

drug and alcohol content: Alcohol is the vice of choice. It’s downed at race gatherings, in clubs and bars, and at picnics. Dogg dangles a cigarette from his lips.

other negative elements: Dangerous motorcycle stunts get a significant amount of screen time. Guys grandstand for the crowds. They stand up on their bikes. They do full-tilt rear and front wheelies. Sparks fly when they strap metal pads to their feet and surf beside their bikes on the freeway. And they race at speeds up to 170 mph. For the record, street racing isn’t just hazardous, it’s illegal. Racers and "fans" wager on race outcomes.

conclusion:"The difference between men and boys are the lessons they learn," Kid muses at the end of the film. "My father taught me plenty." Sure, he taught you how to be reckless, break laws and look out for numero uno. "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." That’s how the Apostle Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 13:11. Kid says the right words, but he never puts his childish ways behind him. He never even tries. When he promises his worried mom that he won’t race again, everyone knows he’s lying. So is it possible to trust him when he promises Smoke he’ll shape up and run a clean club? Biker Boyz isn’t about men and their bikes. It’s about speed-addicted boys who refuse to grow up. If your parents—like mine—declined to buy you a motorbike for your 13th birthday, this movie illustrates why.

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Laurence Fishburne as Smoke; Derek Luke as Kid; Orlando Jones as Soul Train; Kid Rock as Dogg; Djimon Hounsou as Motherland; Lisa Bonet as Queenie; Brendan Fehr as Stuntman


Reggie Rock Bythewood ( )





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Steven Isaac

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