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Legend of Speed (1999)

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-Ekin Cheng
-Kelly Lin
-Cecilia Cheung


Sky (Cheng) is the top street racer around. He has it all: the top spot in the street racing scene, a girlfriend he loves, and a devoted team working with him. He challenges and wins a race against a rival, of which the cost was for the rival to have his leg broken. This man is the brother of former street racing champion Hung, who had beaten Sky's father in previous years. Hung gets released from prison and challenges Sky to avenge his brother. Sky will soon learn the high costs that street racing can hold and will eventually look for his long lost father to help himself piece things together in his life.


With Legend of Speed, director Andrew Lau tries to take his style and apply it to the racing scene. Legend of Speed tries to mix videogame-like racing action with large doses of sappy sentimentalism. It's a movie not unlike many of the good-looks, flashy movies of recent years in both HK and the U.S. It's a fairly entertaining ride, but also seems to have somewhat of an identity crisis and suffers from its share of "cheese".

It would be fair to tell everyone that this movie isn't balls-out racing action, beginning to end. Nonetheless, the racing that everything revolves around is quite stylish. It's openly videogame inspired and that works fairly well. I may be a little biased in this respect, though, as a big fan of videogames, including the Gran Turismo games. The opening sequence is a polygonal animated race scene that is very similar to the opening and replay sequences in many racing games. Throughout the real races, we see many of the same types of shots and even special effects, such as the trails of headlights as cars whip around. I'm not a racing expert by any means, but I don't think the movie is looking to get any points for realism - but it does get by purely on style.

On the other hand, this movie switches gears heavily into sappy, sentimental mode quite often. It certainly makes what would've been a bland street racing story much more interesting, but at times sometimes seems like they are trying to push it too much. I am reluctant to go into too much detail about some of these moments, to avoid spoilers. Nonetheless, these moments are a mixed bag. They hit the right notes sometimes, but seem a little manufactured and cheesy at times, too. It may also be argued that a little too much time was spent on the subplot of Sky finding his father. This did give a lot of background to Sky's character, while theoretically allowing him to change, being a more dynamic character. Unfortunately, I didn't feel the change in his character as much as I feel I should have, especially given the moments and conversations he had with his father. It also did completely break up the pacing of the surrounding plot.

The performances in the movie are also a little bit of a letdown. Ekin is okay, not great, not bad. Cecilia Cheung is about the same in her limited screen time. Many of the other characters, though, aside from the villain who was quite good, were fairly annoying and much more immature than called for. I didn't get a vibe from really any of the characters, and it really looked like B-grade acting across the board. Unfortunately, thanks to this, some scenes do not come off with the intended impact and come off much sillier in the end.

Legend of Speed is a hard movie to totally decide on. It was engaging enough that I was locked while watching it and the style during the racing was quite fun. But, the performances and some of the iffy over-dramatic parts did kind of bug me, too. In the end, I'd have to recommend this as rental quality. It's a decent viewing, but I can't imaging being compelled to watch it again.


-Andrew Lau


-Original Cantonese language.