Here, sit on this milk-crate and look mad, we'll Photoshop the car in later.
United States - 1997
Director - Steve Wang
A-Pix Entertainment, 1998, VHS
Run Time - 1 hour, 39 minutes
Enter Malik (Kadeem Hardison), an innocent bystander Wong picks up on the run. I initially thought that Malik’s predictable stereotyped clowning was there to relieve Dacascos’ wooden acting and complete the buddy-cop act (cleverly disguised as buddy-fugitives.) But wait, ridiculous and mostly unused robo-heart angle aside (oh yeah, that) the dialogue throughout is actually quite snappy and amusing and in the final scene Dacascos belts out a karaoke song revealing that even the golem can muster a sense of absurdist humor. Channeling Axel Foley, Malik’s two-dimensionality is just an inexplicable and practically criminal laziness on the part of the writer and director whom, judging by the relative quality of the rest of the film, are clearly capable of better. One can only assume that this perplexing and disappointing cultural-spectre must serve to add something “familiar” or “relatable”. Maybe the old eye-popping, shuckin-n-jivin’ coon act is meant to help us “suspend disbelief.” Brittany Murphy appears as a deranged/strung-out hotel receptionist who repeatedly throws herself at Malik. But don’t worry, the Hollywood taboo against sullying white female purity with black male sex will not be broken in Drive. Malik may act stupid, but he isn’t. Sometimes even if you’re the most capable actor, with the best lines in the film, you still play along to get along.
I would like to think that a director’s cut version of the film which runs at least 15 minutes longer is better. And despite my waning aversion to macho violence outside of a dojo, yes, more of Dacascos awesome quadruple-discipline martial arts skills would be great. From what I’ve seen in Drive this guy doesn’t get the recognition or roles he deserves, and neither does Kadeem Hardison. Let’s hope that that changes without more of the same tired old song and dance.