Bullet Points: Drive (1997)
I’m not sure there is anything more satisfying to a movie reviewer than finding a hidden gem.
And a hidden gem is exactly what I would call the 1997 movie Drive starring Mark Dacascos and Kadeem Hardison.
- The Premise: Dacascos plays Toby Wong. Wong is the prototype in a bioengineering experiment that was done in Hong Kong. He has a “bio-engine” implanted inside him, this gives him amazing reaction time and other super human like qualities. But Wong wants out, so he stows away on a ship from Hong Kong to San Francisco. He’s already made arrangements with a bio-tech company out of Los Angeles to remove the “bio-engine” and to pay him quite handsomely. I’m talking $5 million handsome. Those responsible for implanting the “bio-engine” into Toby, do not want to lose their prototype and they are in hot pursuit of their valuable asset.
- The Heroes: As I’ve already mentioned, Mark Dacascos plays our main hero, Toby Wong. Dacascos is at Only the Strong levels of likability in this film and he really shines in this role. Shortly after Wong makes it off the ship in San Francisco, he ducks into a local bar in an attempt to lose his pursuers. It is at the bar that he encounters a down on his luck guy named Malik Brody (played by Kadeem Hardison). When the men hunting down Toby show up at the bar, all hell breaks loose. The gun fire and commotion attracts some police attention which was a nice dose of reality, since I’m doubting huge shoot outs in the middle of the day are going unnoticed by the authorities in San Francisco. So Malik becomes Toby’s hostage as a means of escape for Toby. As you may guess, Toby and Malik quickly bond in this scenario and when Toby offers to split the $5 million with Malik, it seals the deal that these two are partners. I would like to point out that Kadeem Hardison made for a fantastic side kick in Drive as he be-bops one liners as fast as Dacascos is throwing kicks. The sum is also as valuable as the parts, as Dacascos and Hardison display the great on-screen chemistry necessary for any “buddy movie” to work.
- The Villains: John Pyper-Ferguson plays Vic Madison, the leader of the man hunt for Toby Wong. Vic Madison has an acerbic wit that makes him an entertaining character but you never forget that he’s still the villain in the movie. Madison has a stooge with him named Hedgehog and who better to play Hedgehog than the one and the only Tracey Walter. That is an example of PERFECT casting! I don’t want to forget the evil Mr. Lau, who is pulling the strings back in Hong Kong. Lau is played by the late James Shigeta who you may recognize from Die Hard or Midnight Man.
- The Action: Aside from the amazing cast of Drive, where the movie really takes it up a notch is the fight scenes. And there is an abundance of fight scenes in Drive, creating some memorable moments. From the bar fight, where Toby hangs upside down from a spinning ceiling fan shooting the bad guys, to the sequence where Toby and Malik are handcuffed to one another and Toby has to fight off Vic Madison and his goons, the fights are filled with things you have not seen 100 times before. I think my favorite fight scene in Drive is when Madison and his thugs are using shock sticks in an attempt to bring Toby down (they can’t straight up kill him until they get him back to Hong Kong and get the bio-engine out of him) Toby, wisely puts a pair of boots on his hands to insulate him from the shock sticks. That level of detail impressed me.
Drive is proof you don’t need to spend a billion dollars to make a great action movie. Watching this movie is a fun experience and one you should not devoid yourself of.
Not since China Strike Force (also starring Mark Dacascos) has a movie wowed me as much as Drive did. Drive is so good, not only would I want to watch it again, I am going to add it to my Amazon cart right now.
While I’m checking out, here’s some bonus Bullet Points for you to check out…
- Director’s Cut: I had no idea there were different cuts of direct to video movies. But apparently there are, and it so happens that I watched the Director’s Cut of Drive, which from my research appears to be about 10 minutes longer than the original cut.
- Deliverance Bodine: The late Brittany Murphy plays Deliverance Bodine, the de facto manager of a motel that Malike and Toby find themselves at after they experience some car trouble on their way to Los Angeles. Murphy did not have a huge role in the movie, but she definitely maximized her minutes on the screen as a slightly unbalanced character who ends up being a great help to our heroes.
- Walter the Einstein Frog: Several characters in Drive enjoy the TV antics of Walter the Einstein Frog, you can too by clicking here!
- He Loves to Drive: Here’s a fun fact for you, John Pyper-Ferguson also starred in the 2011 movie Drive that starred Ryan Gosling albeit in a much smaller role.
- If You Ever: …wanted to hear Mark Dacascos sing Karaoke then this is the movie for you!
- Louisiana Fast: At one point in the film while discussing chicken, Malik expounds upon the virtues of Popeye’s Chicken to Vic Madison. I would suggest grabbing some Popeye’s Chicken to eat while watching Drive to make it an even better viewing experience. #Spicey
- Favorite Quote: “Hey Bob Marley, quit your wailing.” – Vic Madison to Malik
- Worst Quote: “Time to blow.” – Toby
- The Power of Music: There is a scene in Drive that exemplifies the power of music. Because no matter how crappy your day is, when a good jam comes on the radio all your troubles go away for those few minutes.