Just when I accepted that certain genres were off-limits to indie filmmakers, someone proved me wrong. Major kudos to director Jason Park and his car chase action thriller, Four Amigos.
Our hero, Ace (Jason Park), is up against the wall. His mother is in the advanced stages of cancer, and he can’t afford the high-priced life-saving medicine she needs. His only solution is to rob Chino (Chozy Aiyub), Atlanta’s most feared drug lord. To help him, Ace enlists his friends, Max (Brandon Dunlap), Ross (Christopher Deon), and Leo (Luke Dingess)… the Four Amigos! Leading up to the heist, Ace must procure the right cars and convince his buddies to become criminals for a day before Chino finds out Ace is after him.
I have a great deal of admiration for Four Amigos. As mentioned, this has to be the first indie car chase thriller I’ve seen, hoping to take on the Fast and Furious franchise on 0.01% of the budget. Without any knowledge of how this production was put together, my guess is writer/director/star Jason Park belongs to a local car club and maybe thought that there are all these cars available, so let’s make a movie.
Yes, there are a few limitations that an indie production faces regarding the cars. One is that no one wants to crash their vehicle for a film. Second, I’m pretty sure no one wanted to get a ticket, break traffic laws, or put themselves, their cars, or the unsuspecting public in danger. So Park employs some creative guerrilla filmmaking skills to get around these limitations.
Most of the chase scenes were shot on the long winding roads in the woods with hidden cameras to catch the “chase” as it drives by. Now add a few fantastic drone shots, rent out your local racetrack, and you have an action flick sans dangerous stunts, drifts, and crashes. What brings together these sequences is the brilliant editing and sound design. If anything, the revving engines were perfect for making a drive down a highway feel like a high-speed car chase.
“…Ace must procure the right cars and convince his buddies to become criminals for a day before Chino finds out…”
The heist serves as a way to raise the stakes of a story that spends a lot of introducing us to car club culture. Four Amigos takes us to a club meeting with a veritable showroom of suped-up cars built for speed, performance, and some very cool-looking exteriors. To his credit, Park also spends time building his characters.
Playing Ace, Park fashions himself as a loving son who would do anything for his mother, even if it means breaking the law. He also gives himself and his crew a love story or two. Then there’s our villain, Chino, who loves blood and violence. The filmmaker has seen his fair share of action films because Chino is an homage to a few dozen of the lead baddie in them. He’s angry, vengeful, and very sadistic.
The ending of Four Amigos plays out like a typical heist caper. Nothing about Ace’s plan goes right, but somehow the first-time criminal figures a way out with a blend of cunning and luck. Park was smart enough to give himself a “next chapter” ending. I hope it happens.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the ending. It takes a very over-the-top dark turn involving the women in Ace’s life. The tone shifts to the level of a Troma or Full Moon Feature title. It made me wonder, what if the entire movie leaned into the exploitation genre? I think it would be an interesting take. Then again, I may have just ruined the film.
As a fan of indie movies, I’m so glad Four Amigos was made, and I can’t wait to see how Park pushes the boundaries of the indie action film in his follow-up.
For screening information, visit the Four Amigos’ official website.
"…pushes the boundaries of the indie action film..."