Director: Takeshi Koike

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Redline (2010-2011)

Director: Takeshi Koike

Welp, like that mustard/cheese/Ganymede Sea Lobster you swear you threw away but is apparently still in your fridge and is currently staring you dead in the eyes, I’m back with another review, and it’s another retrospective this time, because A: I was bored and B: Winter Soldier is a week away from UK release and is taunting me with his bionic arm.
Anyway, for an incredibly fast recap (as I’m known for my pace) the first film I reviewed was the Gary Daniels film Fist Of The North Star, which was pretty bad but (VERY slightly) redeemed by the sole factor that it wasn’t Dragonball Evolution. Anyway, this retrospective review is on a film I quite like, and has slipped under a lot of people’s radars, including mine, as I didn’t watch it until last year. Not sure if this is gonna rectify that, but regardless, strap yourselves in, rev up those engines and pop a gold nitro charge, as we’re jumping into Redline.
I’m going to say this right now: I don’t like racing films like Fast and Furious and its ilk, as I feel they are slow, badly written dross with dull, non-existent characters (try and remember someone’s name in a Fast movie who isn’t a protagonist without saying “is he the mechanic guy, or the token minority comic relief?”) with tedious dialogue (“ride or die”, seriously? Are you trying to make me care about the fate of a character I’ve known for five minutes and I hate with every fibre of my being?) And whose sole purpose is to showcase new supercars for people to fawn over as they go real fast and run away from things going boom. In short, it’s Call Of Duty with cars. (With the exception of Torque, which is a guilty pleasure of mine because it knows how stupid it is and has some ridiculous car chase/fight sequences)
That said, I like Cannonball Run, because it doesn’t take itself too seriously, is paced well, and has a colourful unique cast of characters with clearly defined characteristics and develops them well without sacrificing pacing and maintaining a clear focus. In short, it keeps it simple without devolving into a labyrinthine plot that serves to make what should be a simple, dumb fun racing film into a Zelda timeline style tangle that’s as easy to understand as an ancient Babylonian text that has half its pages missing and the other half smeared with chocolate. Cannonball Run also has a goofy tone to it, which keeps it light without delving into needlessly dark territory like the Fast movies.
And I also like Wacky Races, a show that also had a simple premise with basic, easy to identify racers with colourful cars and a goofy tone, as racers threw several traps at each other and generally screwed the rules. So what happens when you combine the two and mix in some Japanese style madness, courtesy of a group of people and animators that have worked on such cult classic animated films as Paprika, Ninja Scroll and Summer Wars? You get Redline.
The plot is as simple as a racing film needs to be, which may seem bad, but it takes a simple formula and does it well, peppering it with great visual invention and quirky characters and settings to ensure it never gets boring. The film follows “Sweet” J.P (voiced by Takura Kimura in Japan and Patrick Seitz in English), a devil may care racer with a sweet hairstyle and a souped up Trans Am, who has been entered into Redline, a super dangerous illegal racing tournament that happens once every five years. With the help of his friend Frizbee(Tadanobu Asano/Liam O’ Brien), he gets ready for the race of his life, while also attempting to win the heart of rival racer Sonoshee McClaren (Yu Aoi/Michelle Ruff). But what of the race itself? Well, it’s being held in North Kore-I mean the planet Roboworld, a planet with a lot of illegal military activity that the planet’s leaders do not want exposed, so they plan to kill the racers and prevent the race from being shown. So the racers must not only deal with themselves, they must also contend with military weapons, angry motorized troops and other such perils. In short, its like Mario Kart if it were held in a demilitarized zone, which should totally be a Mario Kart 8 track.
In terms of the pace, it’s well done. The film cuts a great balance between the two races that make up the first and third acts, leaving the middle portion to introduce us to the racers, who each have their own reasons for entering which are explained in a neat, simple way ensuring we know enough to care about them. Each racer is totally unique, which means that even as the bombs fly and the asphalt burns, we never confuse Machinehead(a robot who has linked himself to his car) with Gori Rider (a blue gorilla who’s a loose cannon cop who doesn’t play by the rules). While the characters are basic, you are always invested in their fates, and you are always entertained, thanks to both the amazing performances and the fantastic visual design and animation, which depicts an amazingly vivid world full of colourful alien grotesques. The races themselves are breathless, immaculately animated affairs, bolstered by an amazing soundtrack that really adds to the high speed, high stakes madness unfolding. (Seriously, I don’t usually like techno, but this stuff is amazing. Google Redline Soundtrack, in particular Yellow Line, and tell me you weren’t pumped as all hell)

The film never takes itself too seriously, which keeps it light hearted while still keeping the audience’s investment. This is bolstered by the voice acting, with every actor giving amazingly over the top, scenery chewing turns that mesh perfectly with the Saturday morning style action beats.

In summation, Redline is a ton of fun, constantly bombarding your senses with a bevvy of delicious visual experiences (Bombs! Lasers! Robots! Aliens!) And while there are a few plot details that fall by the wayside, it’s a sheer testament to the rest of the film that you don’t really matter much if some stuff is hardly explained. The races are amazing, the visuals fantastic, the cast diverse, the pace fantastic (its almost two hours long, but never stalls, meaning you never lose interest) and the sound amazing, meaning that whatever nitpicks I have are relatively minor. Redline is an amazingly fun experience that I can happily watch again and again, and this is one ride you’d do well to take.
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