Judge Mitchell Hattaway says that this racing movie really is like watching a traffic accident.
Real racers. Real cops. Real speed.
Really dumb. Really boring. Really bad.
Facts of the Case
This really dumb girl whose equally dumb boyfriend is in the clink meets and falls for a really dumb street racer. The dumb boyfriend escapes from the clink and attempts to kick the ass of the dumb street racer. And a bunch of characters who have absolutely nothing to do with the plot drive their cars really fast.
Every aspect of Streets of Legend is (and I'm being kind here) amateurish. You can gussy it up all you want, but this is nothing more than a home movie, and a really awful one at that. The mastermind behind this project is Joey Curtis, a former street racer (a noble pursuit, to be sure) who now fancies himself an auteur. Curtis served as director, co-writer, and co-editor, assisted with the sound, and was also one of the stunt drivers. He should've stuck to street racing. Forget comparisons to The Fast and the Furious; your average round of Midnight Club II is more exciting and dramatically sound.
We might as well start with the script, which was probably about four pages long and consisted of nothing more than indications as to how much clunky dialogue should be inserted in between the racing scenes. The movie opens with Chato (the dumb boyfriend) receiving oral pleasure from his girlfriend's best friend. While the best friend is disposing of the sock she uses to clean up Chato's emissions, Chato reaches into her purse and steals a snow globe. (Why the girl is lugging around this snow globe, which looks to weigh about eight pounds, is beyond me.) This is followed up by a completely unrelated street racing scene. Then we meet Noza (Chato's girlfriend), who spends her time lighting incense, praying, and writing bad poetry. Noza picks up Chato and takes him to see his parole officer. Chato gets busted trying to pass off his little brother's urine as his own. Chato gets sent to the big house. Then there is another unrelated race. Noza meets Derek Quattro (no relation to Suzi), a really dumb street racer. Noza, whose best friend recently admitted to servicing Chato after she saw her snow globe on Noza's bureau (told you these people were stupid), and Derek fall for each other (this despite the fact that Derek's bedroom walls are covered with posters of half-naked dudes, including one who looks an awful lot like one of the guys from Milli Vanilli). Afterwards, Derek participates in a seemingly endless series of street races. Chato breaks out of prison by scaling the chain link fence that surrounds the prison's soccer field, runs twenty miles in his prison uniform, reaches his house, hops in his own car (how do the cops not catch this damn fool?), then goes over to Noza's apartment, where he proceeds to beat and rape her. Derek finds out about this, so he goes looking for Chato. Chato and Derek fight, then hop into their cars and crash headfirst into each other. Noza, apparently forgetting that he recently beat and raped her, runs over and cradles the dying Chato in her arms. She then cradles the dying Derek in her arms. Then, thankfully, the credits roll.
Now imagine that story being played out by three non-actors who give three of the worst performances you'll ever see. (These performances make Elizabeth Berkley's turn in Showgirls look like Academy Award material.) Now imagine that story and those performances captured by a director who has absolutely no idea what he's doing. Curtis seems primarily interested in testing out his camera's bag of tricks; everything else is secondary. He shoots most of the races using delayed exposures, leaving the screen awash in flashes of blurred neon. (You know that burned-retina effect you get when you look at a bright light for too long and then close your eyes? Picture seeing that for forty-five minutes.) And several of the tender scenes of teenage love are followed by dissolves to shots of blooming roses or exploding fireworks. Hey, there's a novel idea! But my favorite thing about the movie has to be the fights. See, no professional stuntmen were used; Curtis instead hired a bunch of his friends to act as stuntmen. Unfortunately for them, their fighting style brings to mind memories of the late, great Redd Foxx threatening to give the late, great LaWanda Page five across the lips. Honestly, these guys fight like they know their moms (or their manager down at the carwash) will yell at them for messing up their clothes.
The transfer for this movie features one of the strangest quirks I've ever seen. The picture looks, for lack of a better word, squished. The entire image appears to have been squeezed down. I started watching the movie on my HD television and immediately noticed the problem. I wanted to make sure I wasn't imagining things, so I popped the disc into my computer, which will output a letterboxed image, and saw the same thing. I then popped the disc into a player I have hooked up to a standard definition television. Same thing happened. I then sent the television an anamorphic image, which solved the problem. I can only surmise that the movie was shot in a 4:3 aspect ratio (the digital cameras used for the shoot have an adjustable aspect ratio), but the image was fudged into a 1.78:1 ratio for the DVD. I can sort of understand why this was done, but I don't understand why the image wasn't simply matted down, unless this would have ruined the compositions (yeah, right). Of course, if matting would have ruined the compositions (yeah, right), why not simply go with a full frame transfer? As if that weren't bad enough, the image is dull, flat, grainy, and noisy, at least some of which is probably the result of only available light having been used during the shoot. (This movie won a cinematography award at Sundance. It must have been the only movie nominated.) The 5.1 audio track is weak and tinny, and the dialogue sounds canned. There is a fair amount of surround action in the track, but there is no low-end activity. As for the extras, you get a short making-of featurette, some footage of a crashed car (not the crash itself, mind you, just the car sitting there after the crash), and a look at the fight choreography (ha!). These bonus material runs about eleven minutes, serves no real purpose, and adds nothing to the package. (Here's all I took away from the extras: Joey Curtis is rad, bad, and crazy mad. How enlightening.)
One last thing before we close: If anybody out there can explain to me why this movie is dedicated to the memory of Stan Brakhage, I'll send that person a check for 500 bucks. (Please note: Checks will not be honored.)
This movie is half half-assed romance, half half-assed racing flick. That doesn't add up to much.
The more I think about it, the more I hate it, which can only mean one thing: Guilty as hell.
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