Everybody wants to be the King of Cali. But there can only be one motorcycle monarch in this southern Californian land of tattoos and exhaust-worshiping, after-hours, white-collar bikers, and Smoke (Laurence Fishburne), with his synchronized Black Knight entourage, has held the helmet of honor ever since Kid (Derek Luke) was a kid. The only one who’s ever come close to knocking the King off his saddle is Dogg (Kid Rock), the white-trash, mean, sleazy leader of the Strays. But Kid is determined to get his colors and be recognized by the gangs and his Smoke-doting mechanic father (Eriq La Salle) legitimately, until a blood-gushing accident hurls the Kid into a less particular, “I got nothing to lose,” leather-coat ethic.
At some points, director Reggie Rock Bythewood (Dancing in September) has the camera lens practically doing wheelies, most likely to compensate for the film’s mentally arthritic plot and to ensure holding our attention — even a baby’s eye is drawn to motion. And although Bythewood pans like a pro, the two-wheeled roller-coaster ride goes too far beyond “pass me that empty popcorn container — quick!”
Biker Boyz is riding on the laurels of hip pop music, bike tricks and actor reputations (those of Derek Luke, who continues to pull in awards for his lead performance in the currently acclaimed Antwone Fisher, and “where has he been?” Fishburne, an actor able to leap from Pee Wee’s Cowboy Curtis to Shakespeare’s Othello). However Luke and a now beefy Fishburne can only do so much with funky sign language and a flimsy script touting lines like, “What I’m smelling is victory.”
Despite the talent involved and a respectable attempt at direction, inevitably Biker Boyz lives up to its lackluster (expect little) title. It’ll leave you with a monster-rally headache and a craving for something salty.
Anita Schmaltz writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].