Blu Ray Release: March 20, 2012
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Review by James Klein
Robert Rodriguez’s second film after his breakout indie hit El Mariachi was a Showtime TV movie that was original set up as a series of throwback exploitation films from the 1950’s. The series which was produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff’s son and Debra Hill, was intended to take up and coming actors and pair them with an established director to make an up to date version of a B movie. Other directors that were part of this series was Joe Dante, John Milius, Ralph Bakshi and William Friedkin. But it was the young Robert Rodriguez who made the most popular film in the series, Roadracers. Due to the fact it was never released on DVD or blu ray until now, the film has achieved a little bit of a cult status. Now, finally on blu ray with a new color correction and 5.1 sound supervised by Rodriguez, fans of the film can finally see it after 18 years.
Set in the 1950’s, David Arquette stars as a James Dean-type loner named Dude who can play guitar very well but doesn’t seem to peruse anything in his life and is content to just drive around, smoke, eat at his favorite diner, and hang out with his lady Donna (Salma Hayek, in her first U.S. film). However, the sheriff of the town (William Sadler) and his son Teddy hate Dude and look for any way possible to mess with him, trying to get him in trouble. Like most B rated films of the 1950’s, Roadracers plot is pretty thin but moves along quickly thanks to the numerous altercations between Dude and everyone else around him.
While Roadracers is simplistic, I found the film entertaining and a fun watch. I am normally not a fan of David Arquette but his performance as Dude is fun to watch and he captures that James Dean coolness perfectly. Usually playing silly or stoner roles, this was a nice change of pace and Arquette made me forget his past roles in some truly awful films. I also liked seeing a young John Hawkes as Dude’s quirky and strange friend Nixer who tries to talk about the meaning of life while using french fries and is obsessed with seeing the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers (thus leading to a quick cameo by Kevin McCarthy that was a pleasant surprise). William Sadler was born to play bad guys and once again, he does it well as the sheriff whose mother makes him pigs in a blanket everyday while trying to bust Dude for a crime that will finally put him in jail for good. And Salma Hayek is just fucking hot. Enough said there.
Like all of Rodriguez’s films, there are plenty of editing tricks and fast cuts that may bug some viewers. I am not a fan of some of his films that do this to the extreme such as Desperado and The Faculty. However in some films he’s done, I don’t mind it as it fit the type of film it is. From Dusk Till Dawn‘s drive-in type horror film worked with this style Sin City as well. With Roadracers, it works. His kinetic directions keeps this troubled youth picture moving fast and almost makes one forget that there is basically no plot to the film. Even the out of place dark ending that normally wouldn’t fit for this kind of film somehow makes sense and gives Roadracers an odd charm.
The blu ray by EchoBridgeis very good I am happy to say. The color correction that Rodriguez supervised looks great with lots of vibrant colors. The sound is fine but it didn’t blow me away or anything. The blu ray does come with a 10 minute making of feature of behind the scenes footage narrated by Rodriguez on how he made the film under 13 days and how a young film maker can make a feature length film for such a low budget. I really enjoyed this feature but wished it was longer.
I’ve seen this blu ray in stores now for under $10. With all the crappy new films out there at your local Best Buy or Wal-Mart that go for $25 or more, it would be wise to pick up this low budget throwback exploitation flick. Once again, Salma Hayek is fucking hot.