Released: 16th January
Seen: 2nd September
In the 80s there was this trend of films that basically wanted to go out and copy The Karate Kid, which was understandable since Karate Kid was a monster hit. There were sequels, spin offs, rip offs and more. Hell, right now someone is apparently working on a musical based on the Karate Kid. It was a monster hit for a reason, it’s a fantastic film with charming characters, brilliant performances and a classic underdog story that tugs at the heartstrings… and if you remove the words “Charming” “Brilliant” and “Classic underdog” from that description, but effectively make the same film, you get Go!, a 2020 Australian film that almost completely lost me within the first 30 minutes and didn’t gain me back for the rest of the film.
Go! (or Go karts as it’s known in the states, because otherwise you might confuse this movie with the 1999 movie called Go about a drug deal) follows generic white boy #391 AKA Jack Hooper (William Lodder) who goes go karting once for a birthday party and sucks at it, so he therefore decides that he needs to find a way to make it his entire life and compete in an actual upcoming Go Kart competition despite his lack of talent. Like all good generic white boys who seek to become experts in something they’ve tried once, he manages to talk the owner of the Go Kart track, Patrick (Richard Roxburgh) into letting him practice on the track. From there we go through the motions with broken go karts, a villain who is so generic looking that I wondered if the lead actor died his hair to play the villain as well and of course the traditional ‘dealing with the death of a family member’. Oh, and a romance that’s so tepid I genuinely didn’t notice it was happening until the final scene of the film.
From top to bottom, this is a Karate Kid ripoff in the worst way. It follows almost all the same beats, from getting the kid to do manual labour that somehow also trains him for (Insert sport here) to stupidly over the top villain. Difference is that Karate Kid had personality and good acting, two things this film lacks. The closest thing this film has to a personality is that occasionally the film will glitch out like a video game in moments that I believe are meant to be emotional but never pull out any emotion other than wondering if my digital copy got messed up in the transfer. The little moments where they try to do something visually interesting certainly stand out, but they don’t make the film good. Not sure what could.
Part of the problem is that the performances all feel like it’s the first time anyone involved read the lines. It’s flat and emotionless most of the time and the few times they make me feel something, the thing I’m feeling is irritation because our lead character is a whiny little shit. I’m sitting here trying my best to care about these characters and then I realise that calling them ‘characters’ is generous because that implies a personality is there. Some lines are just flat out stupid, including my personal favourite “We stole a brake disc… you stole my heart”, a line that is so painful that I believe I just developed an ulcer from typing it.
I can probably admit to liking the soundtrack, I’m all in for a good bit of 80s synth music and this film is just littered with it… and then you realise that it probably picked that music because this film feels like it was meant to be made in the 80s and no one got around to it. It just feels dated and old, it would’ve fit in nicely on a VHS tape on the back shelf of a mom and pop video shop in that section no one looked at because it’s where they kept the crap. I can praise a soundtrack and an occasional visual effect but that’s where my tolerance for this has to end.
Go! feels like a fitting title because the entire movie made me want to yell “GO!” and hope that’d make the film end quicker. It’s a boring retelling of a story we’ve seen many times over that has a fun soundtrack and a mild visual flair in some areas. It certainly tries, there’s no denying that but after a while I just stopped caring. It’s the kind of film that you might enjoy once, but you won’t be thinking about it the next day.