In 2001, no one could’ve imagined that in 2023 the 11th sequel of The Fast and the Furious would be hitting theaters. The original told the story of street racers who also moonlight as truckjackers, stealing VCRs for profit. Now, though? They are international thieves/spies/heroes who bring down cartels, cybercriminals, and more. Looking back, that part was extraordinarily unforeseeable, but, what one could predict was how the Hollywood machine would respond to the box office smash: clones. So many clones. Biker Boyz (2003), Torque (2004), Nitro (2007), and, of course, director Andy Cheng’s (End Game) Redline (2007). Each of these possess some aspect of The Fast and the Furious’s DNA, repackaged with a different vehicle or perspective. With Fast X in theaters, MVD Entertainment Group is set to release Redline in a new edition as a member of the MVD Marquee Collection, complete with a high-def presentation and several bonus features.
Skilled as both a mechanic and musician, Natasha (Nadia Bjorlin) is pretty happy to just work in the shop with her mother Sally (Barbara Niven) and play in her band. There are times when she doesn’t mind driving, like when a misogynistic client (Eddie Griffin’s Infamous) doesn’t believe she knows what she’s talking about, but she typically keeps that part of her in the past due to the tragic death of her father during a race. But she’ll have to put it all behind her when the fateful meeting with Infamous places Natasha in the middle of an underground street racing organization where millions of dollars (and lives) are on the line.
Redline is to The Fast and the Furious what Transmorphers (2007) is to Transformers (2007): a lesser knock-off in almost every sense. The first clue? Redline was the shooting title for The Fast and the Furious. With this knowledge in mind, one already gets the sense that this automotive action crime drama is trying to mimic the source material. In watching it, however, one realizes that Redline is a feeble imitation, including all the things the filmmakers *think* an audience wants from this kind of film — fast cars, racing sequences, attractive women, loads of male gaze cinematography — while lacking all the things that make the source engaging. Learning that co-writer/producer Daniel Sadek loved cars and was dating then-soap opera actress Bjorlin, a certain explanation forms for why she constantly looks dressed up even when the situation doesn’t call for it. Or, worse yet, like after her abduction, why she’s clearly been undressed and changed without her consent. If the film is intended to not only bring to life Sadek’s automotive fantasies but to serve as a way to expand what audiences/potential filmmakers think of Bjorlin, having her gussied up for something as low pressure as band practice makes a bit of sense. Shame that all the logic within the world of Redline does not. What makes The Fast and the Furious work so well is that the cast has chemistry, we learn to care for the characters and their relationships, and the stakes remain fairly low. Redline operates in escalation and a false sense of coolness, as though they can hide the cheapness by trying to make everything seem grander. Unfortunately, none of this covers up the fact that there’s little reason to invest in any of the characters, their trials, or their potential successes/failures. The copious use of repetitious editing of gear-shifting and petal-pushing to convey rising intensity of driving, as well as the same outside shots of driving to hide that the actors aren’t really doing the stunts, there’s little that pulls the audience into the film. Doesn’t matter what one thinks of the performances or the cast members, very little comes together in a way that excites, titillates, or otherwise justifies spending the time with the film.
However, if you enjoy Redline, there’s no arguing with the quality of the Blu-ray release from MVD Entertainment Group. There’s great balance in the sound, so one does feel enveloped by the action, if viewing on a 5.1 stereo system. The dialogue is clear and the colors are appropriately enhanced from the prior standard release. Evidentially, there was an August 2007 DVD with a Blu-ray released outside of the United States, so the MVD Marquee Collection edition may well be the first-time the film is available in this format as a Region A/1 release. It does include both standard definition featurettes that appear to have been included on the original DVD release. There is nothing new included to commemorate the new Blu-ray, but considering the critical response from the film, this seems more directed at folks who enjoyed the nearly 14 year-old film and are looking to have a little mindless fun.
If someone has never seen Redline, it’s a film I cannot recommend. Instead, your time would be better spent with films like Speed Racer (2008) and Need for Speed (2014) for their engaging interpretations of their respective source material. Or, in this reviewer’s opinion, Tokyo Drift (2006), the one Fast Saga film that I care to revisit the least for its mostly derivative nature (but it gives us Sung Kang’s Han, at least). But if you’re already a fan and have been wanting to upgrade your DVD, you won’t be disappointed.
Redline MVD Marquee Collection Special Features:
- High Definition (1080p) presentation of the main feature in 2.35:1 aspect ratio
- Audio: 5.1 Surround
- Optional English and Spanish Subtitles
- Under the Hood: The Making of Redline‘ featurette (SD, 11:47)
- Redline at the LA Auto Show featurette (SD, 3:35)
- Original Theatrical Trailer (2:33)
Available on Blu-ray and DVD May 30th, 2023.
For more information or to purchase, head to the official MVD Entertainment Group Redline webpage.