Apart from the enduring influence of Quentin Tarantino, no trend has affected today's low-budget action films quite as profoundly as the massive influx of Hong Kong filmmakers into the U.S. in the mid- and late-'90s. But while this trend has resulted in the odd action film that can actually stack up against Hong Kong's—like John Woo's excellent Face/Off— Hong Kong's influence has all too often resulted in such pathetic hybrids as Warriors Of Virtue and Maximum Risk. Steve Wang's Drive represents yet another unsuccessful attempt to integrate over-the-top Hong Kong violence into a standard American action film. Drive stars low-rent action hero Mark Dacascos (Kickboxer 5, Boogie Boy) as an Asian martial artist who attempts to sell a valuable computer chip to a Los Angeles company. A malevolent Chinese company, however, sends a squad of goons to retrieve the chip from Dacascos, who then kidnaps a wise-cracking black man (Kadeem Hardison), allowing buddy-movie tomfoolery to ensue. Dacascos is a martial-arts champion in real life, and he fights with an appealing mixture of balletic grace and visceral force. Similarly, the fight scenes are beautifully choreographed and edited with clarity and precision. As an actor, however, Dacascos is barely on par with such direct-to-video hacks as Don "The Dragon" Wilson and Olivier Gruner, and as his hostage-turned-ally, Hardison makes for an awfully bland sidekick. Also failing to make much of an impression is Clueless star Brittany Murphy, who shows up halfway through Drive as the spaced-out proprietor of a roadside hotel; she fails to provide much-needed comic relief through a running gag involving her unlikely attraction to barfly Hardison.

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