Stacey Lee May in 'Hyperdrive.'
Stacey Lee May in 'Hyperdrive.'
Photo: Netflix


4/5 Stars


Elite street racers from around the world test their limits in supercharged custom cars on the biggest, baddest automotive obstacle course ever built.


We all know and love the Fast and Furious movie franchise, but let's be honest, the life-threatening stunts coordinated with moving vehicles were perfectly executed while making hunky actors like Vin Diesel and The Rock look even better, thanks to a technological development called CGI – until now…

Netflix's latest offering is a reality competition show that quite literally blew my mind. Hyperdrive features elite street racers from around the world who test their limits in supercharged custom cars on the biggest, baddest automotive obstacle course ever built. And for those of you looking for more of a simplistic description – take a walk down memory lane all the way back to 2003 when Need for Speed Underground ruled Playstations and Xboxes worldwide. Everything from the bright lights, outrageous tracks and pimped out cars make Hyperdrive the live-action version of the popular EA Games video game.

In a nutshell, the 10-episode series, executive produced by South African beauty Charlize Theron, sees 28 drivers from all over the world complete a track that is filled with unbelievable obstacles including, but definitely not limited to The Supernova, which requires pulling a J-turn – a driving manoeuvre in which a reversing vehicle is spun 180 degrees and continues, facing forward, without changing direction of travel – within a narrow lane marked off by 2.4-metre-tall plastic tubes, in record time.

Whether you're into fast cars or not (I am the latter) this show will have you hooked from the moment you set your eyes on the neon-lit track, just waiting to be used and abused by the drivers.

As mentioned before the cast of this show is perfect. The four hosts – sports anchor Lindsay Czarniak, auto racing analyst Rutledge Wood, sportscaster Mike Hill, and retired mixed martial artist Michael Bisping – offer a faultless balance of keeping viewers on track (see what I did there) with the competition as well as offering their own bit of entertainment by bouncing off each other with smart and sometimes cheeky comments.

As for the competitors themselves, never have I watched a reality competition show that has people quite literally from all walks of life, including 23-year-old South African spinner and drifter, Stacey-Lee May. What I enjoyed about the 28 contestants is that the show spreads their introductions and individual stories evenly throughout the competition, not only allowing viewers to get to know each contestant but also to understand and perhaps even relate to their reasons for entering this daring competition.

In making this statement, I also have to commend Charlize and her team of producers for steering clear from telling each story in the 'sad and soppy' way many competition shows are guilty of (I'm looking at you Idols and all you other talent shows), but still creating an emotional connection between each contestant and the viewer. 

The track is mind-blowing. While it may, at first appear to be the same throughout the competition, Hyperdrive makes sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats by continuously modifying obstacles making them almost impossible to defeat or introducing at least one new and more outrageous obstacle with every new qualifying round, until eventually the top 6 face what is called The Monster, and quite rightly so.

Another thing this show nails is keeping it so raw, real and authentic, because at the end of the day, if the cars weren't captured crashing, breaking down and falling apart would we even believe that it is totally unscripted and as life-threatening as it is? – We see this in full force when an obstacle sends one of the drivers to the emergency room. And along with seeing cars, ranging from a Lamborghini Huracán, several drift-happy Nissans, a Ford Mustang and plenty more getting bashed and crashed around the track, viewers also see the emotional reactions from the very owners of these cars, some who had to give up everything just to prepare their vehicle to participate in the competition. To say it is gut-wrenching would be an understatement.

The one pitfall of this fast-paced and extremely binge-able show is that while its fair that each driver participates in their own car, I almost feel as though some of the contestants were guaranteed a ticket to the final due to their better financial positions, allowing them a leg up against their competition and leaving the other drivers having to punch above their weight. However, the fact that the perceived underdogs were still able to perform and push their cars to its very limits, giving surprising and unexpected turns along the way more than makes up for this. Everybody loves an underdog.

Do yourself a favour and tune to Hyperdrive – it's fast, it's furious, and it's something you have never seen before!



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