January 2003
Biker Boyz

Reviewed by Godfrey Powell

Biker Boyz
Distributor: Dreamworks SKG
Director: Reggie Rock Bythewood
Producer: Stephanie Allen, Erwin Stoff, & Gina Prince Bythewood
Screenwriters: Craig Fernandez & Reggie Rock Bythewood
Cast : Laurence Fishburne, Lisa Bonet, Derek Luke, Orlando Jones, Tyson Beckford, Brendan Fehr, Meagan Good, Kid Rock, Djimon Hounsou, Salli Richardson, Larenz Tate, Terence Howard, Melissa De Sousa, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Kadeem Hardison, Rick Gonzalez and Dante Basco

Kid (DEREK LUKE, front left) and Primo (RICK GONZALEZ, front right) and the rest of the Biker Boyz cheer on another racer.

Smoke (LAURENCE FISHBURNE, center) leads a processional of motorcycle racers, flanked by two members of his Black Knights, Half & Half (SALLI RICHARDSON, left) and SOUL TRAIN (ORLANDO JONES, right), to honor a fallen member of their club.

Queenie (LISA BONET) and Smoke (LAURENCE FISHBURNE) watch a race from the sidelines.

KID ROCK stars as Dogg, the leader of a motorcycle racing club called The Strays

Dogg (KID ROCK, center left) challenges Smoke (LAURENCE FISHBURNE, center right) to a race as Soul Train (ORLANDO JONES, far left) and Motherland (DJIMON HOUNSOU, center) look on.

Kid (DEREK LUKE) must contend with his mother Anita (VANESSA BELL CALLOWAY), who does not want her son to follow in his father's footsteps.


I firmly believe that a film, particularly an action flick, must open with an adrenaline pumping opening sequence. Something that makes you settle deeper into the puffy theater cushions as you gleefully anticipate the rest of the movie. Biker Boyz does just that! The movie begins with the introduction of its cast notably “Kid” portrayed by Derek Luke, Djimon Hounsou as “Motherland” and Larenz Tate as “Wood.” Then in one of the movie’s cooler scenes the “Black Knights” enter in exacting military cadence. Behind the full throttle line of bikers is Smoke (Laurence Fishburne). He surveys the landscape of varying motorcycle clubs like a warrior surveying his conquests. Soul Train (Orlando Jones) then proceeds to announce the “arrival” of the Warrior King with outlandish reverie. After this the real fun of the scene begins although it does end in tragedy.

Biker Boyz is based on an article that appeared in the Los Angeles New Times in 1999. It detailed the rarely heard of world of black motorcycle clubs that fraternize and compete in races up and down southern California. This is a world where African-Americans are lawyers, pediatricians and bankers during their professional hours who, during off-hours, transform into hard core bikers intoxicated by the spell of colorful two wheeled mechanical beasts. Biker Boyz gives a glimpse of this lifestyle in a stylized modern western format. Authenticity is lent to the film as the majority of extras and bike riders in the film were from the actual motorcycle clubs.

The story is simple: Smoke is the “King of Cali” and everyone attempts to take his crown. Kid in an attempt to prove his manhood forms his own motorcycle club, the movie’s namesake, Biker Boyz. The Biker Boyz are a multicultural group—white, Hispanic, Asian and black youths who make their own rules. Of course, they come into conflict with the strict codes and discipline demanded of Smoke and the elder bike club presidents. I got chills as the movie reveled in displaying elaborate biking races and stunts such as doing a rolling endo (putting the bike on the front wheel with the back tire up in the air) at 80 miles an hour. Derek Luke has an amazing screen presence that aptly matches the smoldering intensity that Lawrence Fishburne exudes.

A key aspect of the movie is its emotional center which elevates this movie over other action films. While the director Reg Rock Bythewood (husband of Gina Prince-Bythewood, “Love & Basketball”) puts great emphasis on the now formulaic study of the father-son relationship, I thought Kid’s relationship with his anguished mother added a greater heat to the film. The musical score is in perfect harmony in capturing the passions of the film. Despite its soft ending, Biker Boyz is highly entertaining and also intriguing because of its insider view on another aspect of black life.

Biker Boyz features a veritable who’s who ensemble cast: Lisa Bonet, Kid Rock, Rick Gonzalez, Meagan Good, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Tyson Beckford, Terrence Howard and Kadeem Hardison.