posted on July 13, 2012 00:00
There are a few words, that if you mention them to most film critics, they are like kryptonite to Superman. They are: “direct-to-video” and “Bollywood.” I grew up loving Dolph Lundgren films, so the first part of that does not scare me in the least. I own every one of his films that is on DVD (Sad, I know). The second part is a bit trickier. I went to Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue prides itself on its diversity. So, I had a handful of floor mates in my dorm from India. Not only did I learn how to play Cricket, I was also introduced to the Bollywood film industry. You take this into consideration, and mix in the Wife’s love of the film Outsourced and Rob Lowe; it should come as no surprise that we would rent Breakaway from the Redbox.
Breakaway starts off with a dream sequence of Rajveer Singh (Vinjay Virmani) scoring the winning goal in an NHL game for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He is snapped back to reality by his father Darvesh (Anupam Kher). The reality is Rajveer works with his father for this Uncle Sammy (Gurpreet Singh) at a trucking company. Next, we see Rajveer and his Indian friends playing hockey at a local rink. They are forced off the ice by a minor league hockey team, the Hammerheads. Rajveer asks for a chance to play with the team, and he does very well. Yet, the coach will not admit it. This makes Rajveer and all his teammates mad. Meanwhile, ex-NHL player Dan Winters (Rob Lowe) watched the whole thing.
Rajveer lets playing hockey get in the way of his duty to his family, and Darvesh forbids him from playing. Soon after, Rajveer gets his friends to agree to form an all Punjabi team to play in the same league as the Hammerheads. He propositions Dan to coach. Next, he goes to Sammy to sponsor the team. He agrees, and the team becomes the Speedy Singhs.
The rest of the film is fairly cliché. Dan’s sister Melissa (Camilla Belle) is a law student. She and Rajveer start seeing each other against Darvesh’s wishes. The Speedy Singhs become local celebrities in the Indian community while they make their run at the Hyundai Cup. Somewhere along the way, Indo-Canadian actor, comedian and DJ, Russell Peters comes into the film to marry Rajveer’s cousin, Reena (Noureen DeWulf), a local news reporter who is covering the whole hockey story. This story line is humorous at times, but also seems a bit unnecessary. The movie reaches its apex as all sports films do: with a showdown between the underdog Speedy Singhs and the sure-fire-winner Hammerheads.
I rented three films last week from the Redbox: This Means War, Like Crazy, and Breakaway. Breakaway was by far the best of these films. Vinay Virmani not only stars in the movie, but he also wrote the screenplay. While some of the dialog is hokey and cheesy, it is a solid spin on the same old sports story. They checked of the typical genre tropes, but the story is still heartfelt. Virmani’s acting was surprisingly decent. Camilla Belle has good chemistry with him. Rob Lowe is, well, Rob Lowe. All the rest of the cast is solid for this style of film. Despite being made in Canada, the Bollywood feel is there like Slumdog Millionaire. Granted, it is a bit heavy handed in this film. It is also worth mentioning that Breakaway was the top grossing Canadian made film in Canada last year. Director Robert Lieberman’s filmography is heavy in the television arena, both shows and TV movies, but he did direct the hockey spectacle D3: The Mighty Ducks. Canadian rapper Drake makes an odd and sudden appearance in the film for a musical number. Also, the ending credits features a song with Ludacris, and RDB (a hit Punjabi band) . Breakaway is campy. It is cheesy. But, in the end, it is fun and heartwarming, too. If you have nothing else to do while waiting on The Dark Knight Rising to open next weekend, go to your nearest Redbox and give this 100 minute gem a viewing.