Sly Stallone plays Joe Tanto, a former racing star brought in to coach Kip Pardue’s Jimmy Bly, a talented but hot-headed rookie whose season is starting to fall apart. But Bly’s problems don’t just lie on the track, and Tanto needs to help him overcome the trauma of a horrific accident to get him back to his winning ways. Driven is an oft overlooked movie with a bad rep – but as unchallenging lazy Sunday fare it’s just about perfect.
Jackie Chan as a street racer? This slick Hong Kong action-fest features all the trademarks of a Chan movie – elaborate fight scenes, gravity-defying stunts, unbelievably psychotic baddies, women in peril – with some superb racing scenes tossed into the mix. Also: an amazing “rock” theme song sung by Chan himself!
Michel Vaillant (2003)
Based on the long-running French comic book series and counting Luc Besson among its writers, Michel Vaillant is an under-the-radar lurker. Its laissez-faire attitude to the source material may upset Francophile literary purists, but the racing scenes, of which there are many, are visually stunning.
Initial D - Drift Racer (2005)
Another comic book adaptation (and another one that has drawn ire from fans of the original material), Initial D delves into the world of Japanese drift racing: youths in souped-up street cars power-sliding around meandering mountain roads. Despite being set in Japan, it’s a Hong Kong-made movie in Cantonese – and stars Taiwanese pop idol Jay Chou as the protagonist.
Hot Rod Girl (1956)
Lori Nelson, who plays the title role, is actually little more than a supporting player in this tale of “out of control” youths, local cops and street hoods. As you might expect from a film with its vintage, Hot Rod Girl isn’t replete with The Fast and the Furious-style racing scenes: its drag strip scenes are a little less high octane, but there’s an undeniable charm in its nostalgic portrayal of 50s America.