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Mark Dacascos, Kadeem Hardison, John Pyper-Ferguson, Tracey Walter Screenplay by Scott Phillips Directed by Steve Wang

THE PLOT: Toby Wong (Mark Dacascos) has a chip embedded in his chest that gives him enhanced physical powers, and a company based in Los Angeles want to buy it, for $5 million. All he has to do is deliver it intact to collect the money. One problem, a rival company is also interested in the chip and has sent a gang of heavies over from Hong Kong to bring Wong in. Enter Malik (Kadeem Hardison), a down on his luck wannabee songwriter who Wong uses to get away from the law after a huge shootout in a pub. Together, after settling on a 50/50 split of the cash, they travel together from San Francisco to LA to collect their loot, only Vic Madison (John Pyper-Ferguson) and his crew have other ideas.

Ok, what do you get when you cross The Matrix and Rush Hour? Oh, and any Jackie Chan movie with any John Woo movie? Answer, Drive, one of the most unexpected delights to emerge from the bottom shelf of your local video store ever. The film was released straight to video in both American and the UK and although this was probably the most intended market, the movie deserved much, much more.

Mark Dacascos (Only The Strong and the fantastic Boogie Boy) plays Toby Wong, a guy blessed with special powers due to the Bio-Engine chip embedded in his chest. He has been offered $5 million for the device and all he has to do is deliver it to a firm's HQ in LA. Well, things don't go to plan and a rival firm also wants the chip and has sent some bad guys to bring Wong back to Hong Kong so they can reap the rewards of owning it. Now enter the Rush Hour element and Kadeem Hardison as the Chris Tucker/ Eddie Murphy/ Chris Rock wannabee, Malik who gets pushed into the proceedings when Wong takes him hostage when escaping from a tricky situation invloving Madison's (John Pyper-Ferguson) heavy mob and the police.

Comparison's to both Rush Hour, Bad Boys etc. are enevitable but the film owes more to Jackie Chan's Police Story series or indeed any of his early Hong Kong actioners due to the fantastic choreographed fight sequences that are littered throughout the film. Echoes of many of John Woo's films are also apparent particularly Hard Boiled. Check out the final reel set in the Apollo 14 bar with the bad guys riding motorbikes (the films shining moments).

But Drive doesn't come across as a rip-off of any of these aforementioned flicks, but homages to director Wang's and writer Phillips obvious heroes of action cinema.

Hardison as Malik does a great job with many of his scenes apparentley add-libbed on set as does Dacascos who shines really throughout any of the films many action sequences. Perhaps the only let down is the introduction of the only female character in the film, Deliverence Bodine (Brittany Murphy) who really does annoy the hell out of you until she finally exits three quarters of the way in.

The films low budget is apparent (see the helicopter flying over the Apollo 14 bar), but it does look like most of the money has been put up there on screen with some great explosions and wild gunfire aplenty. The fact that it is a lower budget movie doesn't distract you attention from this great movie that, as I said before, deserved more exposure that it got. All that Hollywood needs to do know is wake up and give these little movies more attention and give this great team of filmmakers some money as Drive clearly delivers one of the best actioners I've seen all year, Mission: Impossible 2 included.

Paul Heath

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