If you’ve never heard of Drive, the 1997 action film directed by Steve Wang (Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, Guyver), then don’t feel too bad. Drive — not to be confused with the 2011 film starring Ryan Gosling — never appeared in theaters but rather, went straight to video. Suffice to say, it’s probably spent most of its existence to date either getting overlooked on video store shelves or relegated to late night cable TV programming.
Which is unfortunate, because Drive is an absolute blast — especially if you’re a fan of ’90s-era Hong Kong-style action. Mark Dacascos (John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, Brotherhood of the Wolf) plays a cybernetically enhanced soldier from Hong Kong named Toby Wong who’s trying to escape the Chinese forces who want his technology. Along for the ride are Kadeem Hardison (A Different World, White Men Can’t Jump) as a hapless songwriter who becomes Toby’s unlikely partner, and Brittany Murphy (Riding in Cars with Boys, Clueless) as a young woman who insists on joining their “adventure.”
Given its premise and casting, it’s tempting to compare Drive to Rush Hour, which came out a year later. And while Rush Hour had more star power (e.g., Jackie Chan), a bigger budget, and actual theatrical distribution, Drive is martial arts action/comedy gold in its own right. The film’s fight choreography and stunt work, overseen by Koichi Sakamoto (Power Rangers, Kamen Rider), is topnotch, Dacascos delivers some truly enjoyable fight scenes, and he and Hardison strike up a decent chemistry as the two very unlikely allies.
Thanks to the folks at MVD Rewind, Drive will finally get its due later this year. On May 11, they’re releasing a 4K-restored version of the Drive director’s cut on Blu-ray. Other features on the Blu-ray will include commentary from Wang, Sakamoto, Dacascos, and Hardison; a behind-the-scenes documentary; and several deleted scenes (more details here). Watch the trailer below.