Off Track


Men and their fast cars and the women who love them. That pretty much summarizes this slightly frenzied and chaotic 1990 film that dishes out lots of melodrama and male bravado. I have to admit that there are few things that bore me more than films about car racing – men’s obsession about pushing speed to the edge and putting their lives on the line just strikes me as silly and totally ego driven. Boys and their toys. And of course even more annoying is the fact that they always have great looking women in love with them, but usually ignore them like yesterdays take out. One senses that revving their motors is a substitution for sex and no more so than in this film where the men have to be practically dragged into bed by their sexually frustrated girlfriends.
And we are talking here about the crème de la crème of girlfriends. Loletta Lee and Ellen Chan in prime time.  Two perfectly pouty bookends. When they shared screen time my eyes danced the fandango – darting back and forth like the fast footwork of a professional flamenco dancer - Loletta, Ellen, Loletta, Ellen – putting them both in the same frame is a lovely but cruel thing to do. Though they get stuck with the “girlfriend” role, both are much more interesting than their male counterparts. The two schlubs they love are Jacky Cheung and Max Mok who both have a constant petulant look about them and seem to prefer squeezing up close to the steering wheel than pressing up close to Ellen and Loletta - and so they certainly failed to gain my sympathies.
Jacky is the dominant underground race driver (illegal racing through the streets - also depicted in Legend of Speed and Thunderbolt) in Hong Kong, but is challenged by Max Mok and their first race (which is done quite well with great driving being performed) ends questionably with neither admitting defeat.  Loletta is Jacky’s sister, but as these films tend to go she falls for the shy Max. Jacky is not pleased with this and has his men (Wong Chi-yeung) beat Max to a bloody pulp, but after Loletta tends to his wounds and lets him see her taking a shower (don’t get excited, we have to wait a few more years for the same pleasure!) which gets him better in a hurry they really fall in love. Meanwhile, Ellen keeps trying to get Jacky’s mind off of cars and on to her but he keeps getting interrupted by phone calls from his triad boss Lung Fong who wants him to run an errand such as picking up drugs. One more big race is scheduled to see just who has the fastest wheels in town. And all I really wanted to see was Loletta and Ellen having a pout-off.
Something is constantly happening in this film as it moves quickly from set piece to set piece and allows all the actors (including a number of the supporting actors such as Wu Ma as the father of Jacky and Loletta) to have some nice bite sized scenes to chew up. Still neither of the guys generated much interest on my part and so it was difficult to appreciate the melodrama that surrounds them – and after watching 90-minutes of women getting beaten up in Chicken a La Queen the night before it was almost more than I could take to see Ellen roughed up a few times.

My rating for this film: 5.5