With car chase sequences shot guerrilla style, without permits or road closures, throughout the public streets of Hong Kong late at night, “Motorway” is an action-packed drama that follows in the footsteps of Soi Cheang’s last work, “Accident“. However, instead of shooting fancy cars, the director makes a great effort in focusing on the driving skills and the policemen’s goal in shutting down the legendary getaway driver. He has put the romantic elements aside and chose to focus on more aspects of humanity together with the stunt driving on the narrow roads in the city of Hong Kong. I always say I much prefer a film that achieves relatively modest goals as opposed to setting their heights too high and failing spectacularly. A rookie cop takes on a veteran getaway driver in a motorway showdown. Nothing more, nothing less.
Jensen is a legendary getaway driver, who’s never been caught before his retirement 15 years ago. In addition, Chin Kar Lok’s action direction and his stunt team are deserving of praise — since even someone like myself who is not a car fan was feeling the adrenaline pumping during more than one of Motorway’s many car chase scenes! Nevertheless, the climax of the movie lacks the explosiveness needed as it hardly gives us the impact of the story. Fortunately, fast cars drive around and crash into each other for a third of the runtime, helping with much of the redundant narrative drudgery. The film’s notion that fluidity is cooler than velocity definitely ring true.
Don’t expect some fancy chasing scenes alongside with exclusive cars being crashed like Hollywood typical. Motorway offers those in smaller scale, judging by the intriguing conflicts between charismatic bad guy and sympathetic good guys into simple yet effective dialog exchanges. Cinematographer Yuen Man Fung and Kenny Tse had done some guerrilla-style, shot without permits inside buildings or across streets and highways in night mode. As Sean brags, Jensen breaks out of prison with a fellow inmate and his motives becomes clear: he has let Sean capture him deliberately. The humiliation fires Sean up, and a second showdown beckons. Overall, Motorway is still impressive to watch despite those familiar ideas and conventional styles. Motorway is well directed, produced and possesses some exhilarating car stunts, and when it comes down to it, that’s the point right?
Sure, it may not be in a sense, a ‘good’ movie, but Motorway works because of its slick production values and quality direction. All in all, it is an entertaining and fun movie ride that will most likely satisfy anyone who enjoyed “Initial D“. This is Hong Kong’s answer to the sleek and cool Drive. Ryan Gosling may not be anywhere in sight, but it’s aggressive notes are all the same. This, my friends, is high octane entertainment!