RapReviews DVD Reviews

[Sunday Driver] Rockstar Games Presents Sunday Driver
Label: Palm Pictures/Rockstar Games

Author: Steve 'Flash' Juon

The Grand Theft Auto series has revolutionized the world of video games ever since its inception. The GTA3 subset in particular has both outraged parents and delighter hardcore gamers everywhere with a mixture of realistic violence, off-color humor and hip-hop attitude. It may not be morally acceptable to steal cars, beat up hookers and shoot cops in the real world, but in the GTA universe you do these things to get ahead and are rewarded for doing them. Now I don't want to get off on a tangent here instead of reviewing this DVD, but I'd like to point out the vicarious thrill of violence has been around in video games ever since Death Race all the way back in 1976. Thirty years later people are still bitching and quite frankly the same people who would hail "The Godfather Part II" as a cinematic masterpiece only seem to be offended because the graphics in a GTA game are good enough to BE a movie - only this is one you can interact with. Which would you rather have anyway - teenagers playing violent video games at home or learning REAL violence out on the street?

At this point Rockstar has progressed to the point where they're not just making video games with cinematic production, they're making movies ABOUT those video games. "Sunday Driver" was originally released in the UMD format for PlayStation Portable in the fall of '05, but given that the PSP exclusive GTA title "Liberty City Stories" was recently ported to the PlayStation 2 format it's no surprise this movie would also make the transition to DVD. "Sunday Driver" is a behind-the-scenes documentary style film about The Majestics, a lowrider club from Compton, California. If you were questioning why "Sunday Driver" would be covered on RapReviews, perhaps it's now readily apparent. The opening screen of this film really blows your head off - intellectually that is - by pointing out the whole lowrider culture was unintentionally kicked off by a law California enacted in 1959 that made it illegal to drive a car whose frame was low enough to touch the ground. That's what kicked off hydraulics y'all - the culture of cool cars has never been the same since. It's that same culture and hip-hop lifestyle that inspire Grand Theft Auto games, so it's only right that Palm Pictures and Rockstar would take it back to Compton and see the roots of the shit.

To get right to the point, this film is everything that "Hyphy Exposed" could have been and never was. Instead of presenting a negative and utterly unwatchable look at West coast car enthusiasts and their lifestyle, "Sunday Driver" takes it to a whole new level. These are people who are proud of their rides, proud of looking so sharp and so clean, proud to ride and proud to be black. There's a strong resentment towards law enforcement, mainly due to the misperception that lowriding automatically equals gangs and drugs, an issue this film is ready to tackle head on. The soundtrack is very hip-hop as you would expect, opening appropriately with "California Love" by the late Tupac Shakur, although there's also a funk and R&B vibe throughout, many of which you would recognize sampled from your favorite rap tracks. I love how the founders of The Majestics talk about how lowrider culture has changed from back in the day, from how low you could make a vehicle lay to how high you could make it jump. Throughout though it's been about looking sharp both as a matter of pride and to impress your friends (or even rivals). The attention to detail makes you feel like you're right there in the middle of the game, right down to visiting a hydraulics shop and listening to one of the original Majestics talk about how today's kids tear up their cars because they've got more power than common sense and/or don't reinforce the frames underneath before adding hydraulics.

To make a long story short rather than describing every scene of the film, this is a short film (only 58 minutes) but it feels long when you're watching it and not in a bad way. If you appreciate cars, hip-hop, Grand Theft Auto or all of the above it's worth picking up this DVD to view it again and again. The extra features are pretty damn good in their own right, particularly a section showing car customized by 'Doc' being driven around in Okinawa, Japan - this section is at least 5 minutes itself and interviews the car's owners in depth. The extra features in total probably add another 20-30 minutes to the film and definitely make it a good value for the money - the only thing that might have been better would be a few music videos set to hip-hop songs you could just play any time and watch all the classic whips with big gold Daytons ride by. There's no jacking or looting in this DVD - it's part of the Grand Theft Auto culture but it's a step beyond to see what inspires games like "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" in the first place. Definitely recommended even for a casual gamer or car enthusiast, and big up to director Carol Strong for presenting Cali car culture in the right light and not a negative way.

Content: 7.5 of 10 Layout: 7.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10

Originally posted: June 27, 2006
source: www.RapReviews.com

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