Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
A young mechanic yearns to break away from his uncle’s garage and join the professional racing circuit. On the way he falls in with the wrong kind of crowd when he gets involved in a little illegal street racing.
Is it good movie?
In the opening moments of the Roger Corman produced Asphalt Wars I thought hey, this might be good. A young man named Reno played by Gilbert Chavarria takes his car for a spin, to see how far he can push it. This is a really interesting scene and a very personal look at the dude we are going to be rooting for (hopefully) during this flick. I was surprised because I thought this might not be as cheesy as it could be. A strong opening soon vanishes into thin air when he runs into a couple of annoying bad guys who do some really bad acting. They tempt our hero into the world of illegal street racing. And if you want to see some really badly staged racing sequences, this is for you.
We get one more bright spot later on when Reno meets hottie Dina (Calvi Pabon) and the two end up falling in love. Now, if they had been smart, they would have just made this little Indie flick about trying to survive in this kind of world. But no, we get car chases, fist fights (well, usually ones with baseball bats) and a couple of shoot ‘em up sequences. None of it worked. During the races we get close ups on them driving, close ups on the speedometer and such, and a couple of shots of the cars “speeding” down the road. The art of making a great independent feature is to know your limits and work around them. They just wanted to sell this flick to the Fast and the Furious crowd. Bad choice.
I mentioned that I liked Gilbert Chavarria and Calvi Pabon. It was a waste to turn their relationship into a clichéd romance in a racing flick. This would have been a much more interesting film if they focused on them and not on the ridiculously caricatured bad guys. The dude’s weren’t scary or menacing, just dull and amateurish. Although both the romantic leads felt a bit on the amateur side also, that seemed to work in their favor. It worked somewhat but not half as well as it could have been. Very little time was given to that yet they found the time to focus on the races and some badly choreographed fight sequences. There might have been a good movie somewhere in this silly excuse for an action flick, but from where I was sitting, I couldn’t find it.
Video / Audio
Video: This is made for TV Full Screen 1.33:1. It’s not a bad transfer yet it gets a little too bright sometimes.
Audio: Sounds okay in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Rev up those engines baby.
What extras? We get a trailer for the Roger Corman collection; another trailer for Dinocroc. And if you are not sick of Mel Gibson, we get a sneak peak at Apocalypto.
What could have been an interesting film about street racing and how it can destroy the lives involved, Asphalt Wars settles for a wannabe action flick. Cheap, boring and dull, this is a great example of how not to shoot and edit action and fight sequences. On the other hand, both Gilbert Chavarria and Calvi Pabon do their best to try and spark some interest. But in the end, this ain’t fast and it ain’t furious. It just runs out of gas.