Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Speed Racer (2008)

Korean title: 스피드 레이서 (Seu-pi-deu Rei-seo)
Written & Directed by:
Andy & Larry Wachowski

What's popping:

Trixie: Move it Speed! It’s getting ugly out there!

I received many comments from friends before watching the flick:

  • “It’s a kaleidoscope of colours,” said one.
  • “A reviewer said the film looks like an explosion in a paint factory,” said another.
  • “It makes your eyes and head hurt,” yet another.
  • “The racing scenes are such a blur. If Speed Racer's car wasn't white, you wouldn't know what's going on,” and yadda yadda yadda.

While most of the above are true, I still enjoyed Speed Racer as at its heart is a story about a genuine passion that isn't seduced or lured by the ways of the world.

Pops Racer: You think you can drive a car and change the world? It doesn’t work like that!

The sport of motor racing has been tainted by the money-driven politics behind it. The Grand Prix race is not a healthy competition anymore as the only thing that matters is a healthy bank account.

Need for Speed: Zooommmmm....

The best of the best race car drivers are being recruited by the oily Mr. Royalton (Roger Allam). He collects racecar drivers like the drivers scoop up trophies.

But Speed (Emile Hirsch), who is proving to be a force to be reckoned with on the race circuit, and his clan refuse to be bought into the seedy world of fixed racing.

Ben Burns: This isn’t a race; it’s a showdown.

Enter Racer X a.k.a the Harbinger of Doom (Matthew Fox) and Taejo Togokhan (Rain!). The former is a mysterious masked character who is part of an organisation bent on exposing Royalton's scheming ways.

The latter is one who has been involved in fixed racing and seems to want out of it.

Kerpoww: 'Come and get a taste of my fists of steel!'

In return for helping Taejo win the notorious cross country race called the Casa Cristo/ the Crucible, Racer X will be getting a file-load of information on Royalton’s nefarious deeds.

With Speed onboard, the trio forms an alliance to compete in the race, which can get extremely nasty, especially with the souped-up cars. Will the trio be able to trump Mr. Royalton and his team of race car drivers?

Speed: Okay, no more Mr. Nice Guy!

As things turn out, Rain's Taejo is a sneaky opportunist, who forms the alliance solely for personal gain.

So how does the Korean megastar fare in his Hollywood debut? He does well. His supporting role is important to the plot – it ain’t no token role – even if his dialogue is fairly limited :-).

Deep thought: 'Watch out Speed, I'm coming.' (ha ha, geddit?)

Everyone who’s K-popped! knows that Rain can act and it’s nice to see the Hallyuwood star bring his talent to the Hollywood big screen.

After watching his performance, its little wonder that the Wachowski brothers offered him the lead in Ninja Assassin. 아자 아자!

Trixie: Oh my god, was that a ninja?
Pops Racer: More like a “non”-ja. Terrible what passes for a ninja these days.

What of the other Korean actor in the flick, huh? You know, erstwhile g.o.d. member Park Joon-hyung/ Joon Park.

Well, it’s unfortunate that Joon Park only appears in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment.

Don't blink!: Or you'll miss Park Joon-hyung's scene above

You know the appearance he makes in the trailer? Yeah, that’s about all the screen time he has in the film. Let’s hope he has a meatier role in Dragonball.

Apart from that, I also noticed that Rain is credited as…well, “Rain” in the movie and not Jung Ji-hoon. He did say that he would like to be known as Jung Ji-hoon the actor, but I guess “Rain” makes more heads turn instead of Jung Ji-who?

Speed: See you at the finish line!

All said, Speed Racer is an entertaining flick, and you don’t have to be a Rain fan to enjoy it. There are so many things to appreciate…like Spritle (Paulie Litt) and Chim Chim. They are a hilarious pair, no? :-)

The plot:

A CGI-laden adaptation of the classic cartoon of the same name.

Speed Racer is an aspiring race car driver who has to battle corporate conspirators, hoodlums and ninjas as he zooms his way to the top...or finish line, if you like.

Comic relief: Meet the mischievous duo - Spritle and Chim Chim

The only reason the flick’s being featured on K-popped! is because Korean superstar Rain makes his Hollywood debut in the supporting role of Taejo Togokhan.

Wait a minute, you say. A Korean playing a Japanese? We’ve seen worse ;-).

Watch it:

At the time of writing, it’s still showing in Malaysian cinemas. What are you waiting for?

Pics credit: Speed Racer official website & Hollywood Reporter

Speed Racer cartoons & collector's edition


daisyjane said...

@Liz, excellent review! One of the best review i've read on Speed Racer. Rain on the big screen? Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Anonymous said...

I had low expectations going in to see the movie but I honestly loved every minute of it. I'm no fan of cgi, racing movies, cartoon based movies etc but this movie had something to appeal to just about every movie goer. It had a powerful and interesting plot, great actors, great characters, and good comic relief. I really dont understand why it tanked in the US other than poor promotion... i know from the previews it didnt look like anything id be interested in but i was proven wrong, sadly it took a debut hollywood role from my favorite popstar to get me to see the movie and not the trailers alone.

marcel said...

ooo.. can't wait to go watch this @ the IMAX & burn my eyeballs out.. after midterms are over ;)

Anonymous said...

I liked Speed Racer personally. A lot of bashing on the movie has taken place especially in the
American reviews. *sigh.... BUT Rain looked so hot in it :D hehe

Tyler said...

Yeah it's a decent show. Too bad it tanked in the States. But it was going up against Iron Man right? That was awesome!

Rooster said...

Ah, it hasn't opened in Beijing. Most of the cinemas here are closed to mourn the dead from the Sichuan quake. Well, can't wait to watch it.

I managed to catch Iron Man though. Yea, that was AwEsOmE! I was never an Iron Man comic fan, but I'm now definitely a fan of the movie!

Liz said...

Yeah, I watched Iron Man too!!! Loved it! Tony Strak...OOoooOOohh. Didn't know Robert Downey Jr could portray a superhero! Gonna watch Indy 4 soon too. Yay!

Me said...

Joon Park is way cool. I almost screamed in the hall coz of him only. ke ke ke. Can't wait for his next movie. I like Rex b4 plastic surgery. Maybe they should mention he do it in Korea. Suppose Tenjo is Korean but then how come his sister had Japanese name. Chim Chim is the best one. But i think he getting older.

Anonymous said...

I had very very very low expectations for it. I mean very very very low. But I was surprised to find myself cheering and hollering when Speed was winning etc. I got a little emotional at the end. And of course when rain came on my twin and I screamed and fainted... but we had warned the audience before that we were sorry if we were loud when rain came on. They knew. ;D


Liz said...

Ha ha ~A, that's a hilarious story. And you are one half of a twin? That's awesome! :-)

Li-Jin said...

I wanna watch speedracer!

Kudos to Rain who lend himself in SpeedRacer and Assassin. I can just feel the adrenaline of speed and stealth.


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