Blu-ray is to DVD as DVD is to video.
The just-released Blu-ray edition for Born 2 Race is quantum leaps superior to the original DVD version. Tremendously enhanced colors leap off the screen, action sequences sizzle while character nuances explode to life with this format.
The story of bewildered high school drag racer Danny Krueger (played by Joseph Cross), trapped in that lost fashion of life where teens seemingly slump, finds redemption in the movie's surprisingly rewarding finale.
Growing up without dad, he disastrously sees his talents and life tumbling out of control like the astronaut whose lifeline is severed by HAL the computer in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Ali Afshar, the movie's producer and Subaru compact racer-developer, plays himself as race team owner who dresses Krueger down in slap-to-the-face dialogue. After the kid wrecks a $100,000 race car, ramming a police cruiser when an impromptu street race goes really rad, Afshar exhorts, "What you did was stupid!"
Afshar's cold reality shakes the youngster to the bones when summarily dismissed from the team Penske-style.
Krueger's dream, his credo — "I want to be the first import racer in Top Fuel" — wastes away in about the moment it takes nitro to blow a Funny Car to smithereens. His hope dangles on edge like a super-charger emerging from the carnage, teetering, held gingerly by an errant line.
His dad, John Pyper-Ferguson as the street-schooled Frank, recovers from failures that unbeknownst to him provided life-training for this exact need by his offspring.
He re-enters the son's life when mom hands him off like a hot potato because she can't handle teenage angst any longer, particularly with no help from the step-father.
The step-father (Matt McCoy) is one example of many minor roles played well in this film. His wimpy, lost-space-cadet presence seemingly can't fathom masculine challenges beyond punching the button closing the garage door, a notable contrast when Dad drives up in his truck and car-haul trailer.
Frank lays down the rules of the game to his son when he takes the teen away. In terms one senses he broke flying the coup from his son's life at the tender age of 10, he barks, "You're gonna put those mechanic skills to use everyday after school. No free rides!"
Sharing the performance of the movie, though, are the super-hip street rides that run like those at Laguna Seca or the 24 Hours of Daytona.
Afshar's background as driver and developer of Subaru performance cars shows in every frame of racing performance whether on the track, illegal street drags, or night chases through the streets of mythical Bradford, a small town experience for the L.A. life of Danny.
Through Afshar's ESX Motorsports, Inc., Subaru Performance Tuning is applied to compact dragsters where they face in real racing some of the toughest out there on the circuit.
In the movie it is the super-bad black Mustang that nemesis Jake Kendall (Brando Eaton) uses to taunt (and chase) Danny, who wheels his hopped-up white racing Subaru.
The Mustang looks so tough, particularly from low frontal shots accelerating down the drag strip, even NHRA Funny Car driver Mike Neff, a star at staying cool, would sweat.
These racing and chasing scenes, exploding with the super hi-fi of Blu-ray visually, are extraordinary on a screen with size, particularly a big one like the 60-inch I commandeered for this showing.
Blu-ray literally takes the Born 2 Race drama and launches it right in the mix of moviedom's better family stories.
Character nuances like Danny's expressions through all of his push-and-shoves to manhood are brought to life through Blu-ray. An example, racing buddy, Mikey, tells him "Dude, you're like a bull; you see red, you go for it."
Nicole Badaan as Jessica, the upscale, popular girl — you know, the one you never met in school — always with the in-crowd, reaches down and brings the out-classed Danny into her mix.
Thinking back on high school, you'll recognize his feelings — and hers — when remembering yourself in those situations no matter when your graduation bell rang.
With super-hot, dressed-to-kill female race-starters on those street runs, one could consider chucking it all and just go racing as a much younger Afshar did, police-tickets and all, on the streets of his hometown Petaluma, Ca.
The movie has this sense of reality learned from his daring-do. Fortunately his passion led to this decade-in-the-making film with more to come.
In the meantime, get the just-released Blu-ray version here with extra bonus features Behind the Scenes, Getting It Right and Cast & Crew Highlights.
The bargain-buy is the original DVD (read its Media Matters review) for little more than the cost of a gallon of gas. Check it out at Amazon.
Or, like Kendall's license plate states: UL B SRY
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