Awfully Good #61

As the most amazingly ridiculous and unapologetically self indulgent film ever released by a major studio, and a personal favorite, I always imagined saving TORQUE for the final Awfully Good column. But since so many readers have written in asking about it…you’re welcome.

Torque (2004)

Director: Joseph Kahn
Stars: Martin Henderson, Ice Cube, Monet Mazur


Is there a plot?

A wrongly accused fugitive biker returns home to clear his name, get his girl back and take down a gang of drug smuggling riders.


What's the damage?

From the opening FAST AND THE FURIOUS homage/mockery to the last frame, TORQUE is not a film but a celluloid challenge—a challenge to the audience, a challenge to the senses, a challenge to physics, and a challenge to common human decency and the rationality we hold dear as a society.

The new Chuck Norris brand Nikes added just the perfect amount of mockery before paralyzing roundhouse kick victims.

Joseph Kahn, director of countless music videos and simultaneous protégé of Michael Bay and a meth lab, does not direct this as an action movie. No, Kahn sets out to make hardcore porn for the senses. Every shot of TORQUE is an exercise in excess. A character takes off his gloves? Let’s do a zooming swish pan! Ice Cube stands still? Time for a random VERTIGO-style dolly zoom! Is the hero about to take off on the world’s fastest motorcycle? Why drive through the open door, when there’s a perfectly good window next to it that he can smash through in slow motion and look badass! It’s truly filmmaking for A.D.D. junkies. In all seriousness, by the film’s final chase (which is a gift of ridiculousness bestowed upon humanity by God) my eye was twitching from the glorious sexual assault it had thus far received.

Hummers. For when you want to do some serious off roading.

Thankfully, TORQUE has more up its sleeve than just fast bikes and a camera on peyote. There’s also an actual plot that deftly revolves around a psychological portrait of race relations in contemporary culture: Martin Henderson and his band of ethnically diverse riders must defend themselves from the evil and racially homogenous biker gangs that want to violently murder them. And don’t worry, everybody in the movie is constantly reminding everyone else of their race, so you won’t forget the touching message. Especially when racial equality is achieved at the end with a handshake.

Because the “Help, he’s crushing my larynx!” sign was already occupied.

Further proof TORQUE has some depth? Just look at the constant motif of mirrors and reflection Kahn employs. I’m sure that says something about the human condition. Remember, this is a film where characters are defined by the bands who adorn their t-shirts (good guy: The Ramones; bad guy: Motorhead), as well as the way they say their lines. Literally; Ice Cube and Matt Schulze (playing the same character he did in FAST AND THE FURIOUS) snarl every word that comes out of their mouth. Cube could be saying “I love puppies and gingerbread, motherf*cker!” and it would still terrify death row inmates.

The TORQUE sequel will be presented in patent pending 3-D FIST-O-VISION.

And as if to reinforce how purposefully bad it is, TORQUE ends with a song by Nickelback. My God, the mind cannot comprehend.

"Best" Line

I love the fact that Ice Cube would freely use the term “Indochina,” but what the hell is this movies preoccupation with subcontinent Asia?


BONUS: Apparently I need to start picking up biker girls. It looks easy.

"Best" Parts

1) This is probably the most kinetic and ridiculous chase, nay action sequence, ever committed to film. (For God’s sake, the camera goes in to the guy’s engine and comes out of his brain.) It makes Michael Bay long for subtlety. It makes Albert Einstein renounce physics. It makes the Sega Saturn look like a legit digital effects platform.


2) Ladies and gentlemen, the “Bike Fu Catfight,” sponsored by Pepsi and Mountain Dew.


3) Ice Cube does his best “Michelle Yeoh in SUPERCOP” impression in this motorcycle chase on top and inside of a moving train. And just check out the size of that explosion from a little motorcycle! Gee whiz!


Nudity Watch

Did you know if a motorcycle travels fast enough it can blow up a lady’s skirt? Sweet.


Enjoyableness Continuum:

Make THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS look pedantic and wimpy! Buy this movie here!

Play Along at Home!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • There’s a mirror or reflection in the shot
  • The film defies a law of physics
  • Ice Cube snarls or grimaces
  • Things randomly turn in to a music video
  • There’s obvious product placement

Double shot when:

  • Ice Cube repeats an old song lyric


Thanks to Andrew, Martin, Ronny B., another Andrew and Dave for suggesting this weeks movie.

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email and give him an excuse to drink.

Source: DVD Clinic
Tags: awfully good



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