A scene from RedlinePut simply, if you’re a fan of action anime or an admirer of Speed Racer but always wished it was a little edgier, then Redline is for you. There aren’t a lot of opportunities to see Japanese animation films on the big screen, but Toronto After Dark‘s Saturday afternoon programming of this adrenaline ride was a selection to which many were looking forward.

Racers have been qualifying for a coveted spot in the redline race by winning various yellowline competitions for the five years leading up to the popular match. The location of the championship track remains secret until the last driver qualifies, but there’s only one spot left. Luck guarantees Sweet JP a spot on the line against top racers from across the galaxy. But the location has everyone a little uneasy – Roboworld’s inhabitants are not keen on uninvited visitors and vow to do everything in their power to stop and/or sabotage the race, leaving the drivers to decide whether bragging rights are worth risking their lives.

Though some of the characters are human, many of them are an odd array of alien creatures or human hybrids. Moreover, the mechanized people of Roboworld consider their home humanity’s last place of peace – though there is plenty of evidence to the contrary, including a massive bio-weapon called Funky Boy. In addition to strange looking characters, there are a variety of magics and super-advanced mechanics at play.

The characters are quite engaging. JP, his manager and older mechanic are like a family of three generations of men all drawn to the racetrack. They bicker and have trust issues, both personal and professional, but always come through for each other in the end. Also, JP’s pursuit of Sonoshee adds another element to the story, though the culmination of their love story is somewhat nauseating.

The film itself is stunning. The colours are vibrant and the images are imaginative. The races are fast-paced and set to energetic dance music that booms over the loud engines. The cars are distinctly styled and equipped with a variety of add-ons that make them faster and/or deadlier. The final race is a combination of heart-pumping action and military action as Roboworld’s army attempts to attack and thwart the drivers.

The dialogue is funny and often sarcastic giving the characters engaging personalities. Even the secondary and periphery creatures add to the film’s charm, which are many.

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