Roadracers Blu-ray Review
I had no idea what to expect when I received director/writer Robert Rodriguez (SPY KIDS, SIN CITY) first American Hollywood film ROADRACERS. Fresh off the exceptional EL MARIACHI, Rodriguez was given a million dollar budget (it ended up costing less) to throw together a Miramax studio Showtime film in just thirteen days. Obviously no one had any expectations for ROADRACERS but Rodriguez made the best of it turning in a fun campy stylistic good time about a 50’s rebel against the establishment.
This over-the-top version of REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE stars David Arquette (SCREAM, EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS) as Dude (not to be mistaken with Jeff Bridges’ The Dude from THE BIG LEBOWSKI), a bad boy rocker who loves to drive his car and kiss his girl Donna (Salma Hayek). Dude never takes off his leather jacket, keeps his hair greased back enough to use as a weapon and rarely isn’t lighting up a cigarette. Hotties love him and parents hate him. But his main enemies include the local police Sarge (William Sadler) and a few neighborhood punks (led by Jason Wiles).
Accompanied by his loyal but strange friend Nixer (played terrifically by a very young John Hawkes from MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE, WINTER’S BONE) and his sexy Latina girlfriend, Dude enjoys street racing and playing his guitar. Occasionally Dude might take his girl to the local roller skating rink but not without taking the opportunity to harass his enemies. Dude eventually has to face some life decisions that is helped by some wise direction from the no nonsense diner owner J.T. (O’Neal Compton) and some odd parallels with the film INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS.
ROADRACERS represents the point of view from the rebel loner and how everyone is out to get him. Dude’s a bad boy that doesn’t start trouble but never backs away from finishing it, eventually culminating in a surprisingly absurd mess that will make you say, “that escalated quickly.” All the character stereotypes and actions are heightened to ridiculous proportions that make ROADRACERS a joy to watch and a definite recommendation to those hardcore Robert Rodriguez fans.
A million dollars was the most Rodriguez had ever received to make a movie, so despite the rest of his Hollywood crew thinking it was nothing and put in little effort, Rodriguez was excited. Casting then completely unknown actress Salma Hayek (FRIDA, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN) in her first movie, Rodriguez’s goal was to eventually cast her in DESPERADO opposite Antonio Banderas. Giving her a movie credit role first was the only way to convince studios to take a chance on Hayek and we all know how that turned out. Rodriguez and most of his ROADRACERS cast ended up being bigger forces in Hollywood so it’s fun to see them work together in a strange but delightful B-movie.
Video: (High Definition 1080p 1.78:1) The Blu-ray release added a dark contrast that looks sharp and improves the look of ROADRACERS despite the occasional grainy scenes.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS) The audio for ROADRACERS is great picking up all the mixes clearly.
Director’s Commentary: Director Robert Rodriguez talks quickly without pause. Yet every moment is extremely informative giving us every detail on how ROADRACERS came to be and the tactics used. As movie fan, he gives an interesting and useful commentary.
10-Minute Film School – The Making of a Degenerate Hot Rod Flick (10:01): Robert Rodriguez does an excellent job explaining why and how he made ROADRACERS in a rapid 13 days. These are useful hints to any aspiring filmmaker and he makes a great case on why one should shoot fast when starting out.