by Del Harvey
Top Hong Kong motorcycle racer is forced to reevaluate his way of life after a serious accident and loss of a close friend.
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Director Derek Yee takes the action and excitement of Hong Kong motorcycle racing and wraps it in the cloth of human drama. Jaded local cycle hero Andy Lau meets newcomer David Ng, as positive and open-minded as Lau is cynical. Ng believes in himself and his abilities; Lau doubts himself and his future. Both believe themselves to be the No. 1 racer, but spend the first half of the film dancing around that fact rather than cutting to the chase. Lau’s best friend Chin Kar Lok wastes no time in confronting Ng at every opportunity. Lau’s father, Paul Chun, runs the local professional motorcycle team, but his hard-heartedness has meant ignoring the needs of his son while catering to those of his best cyclists, ruining his family in the process.
Lau turns in one of his best performances in Full Throttle. His reluctance to conform to normal life and routine is salvaged not only by the support of friends like Chin Kar Lok, but also by the long-standing devotion of his girlfriend, Gigi Leung. When he is involved in a life-threatening accident, she stands by him. The question becomes whether or not he will realize the beauty and joy of this woman before he loses her.
More drama than motorcycle film, Full Throttle is an exciting and engaging study of learning to make the best of life with the talents you have, and not trying to be something you cannot. It is told with style and grace and is well worth your time.
Del Harvey is a writer and the founder of Film Monthly, is a devout Chicago Bears fan, loves Grant Park in any season, and recently taught screenwriting at Columbia College Chicago.
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