Scorpion Releasing // 1980 // 111 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 23rd, 2010
David Essex is Nick Freeman, a professional motorbike racer who's constantly playing catch-up to his arch-rival, the flashy Bruce McBride (Beau Bridges, The Fabulous Baker Boys). Bruce has it all -- the wins, the ladies, the money -- while Nick can only look on with envy. Until one day, a death in his family leaves Nick in possession of the Silver Dream, a wicked cool motorcycle that looks like it was given to us by aliens. Oh, and it was real sad that family member died.
Now, between his sweet new ride and the hot promoter who's defected from McBride's stable, Nick has a real shot at doing some winning. What awaits? Action, racing, romance, and...horror!
Not snarky horror, like "This movie is so bad it's horrifying." Oh no, we're talking flat-out, eye-popping despair, thanks to one of the starkest, gut punch finales I've ever seen (I'll spoil it at the end of the review, if you're interested).
Before your soul dies, Silver Dream Racer supplies a standard-issue sports underdog film with mixed results. Essex is good as Freeman; sympathetic and sort of cool. He's greatly benefited by Bridges' McBride, the kind of alpha dog premium douchebag you love to root against. These two jaw at each other a decent amount and talk trash, but these aren't characters you've never seen before. It's basic proven Sports Underdog Formula, executed in a cheesy, yet mildly effective way.
The biggest attraction in Silver Dream Racer is the racing stuff. The camera catches some genuinely sweet moto action and, thanks to the high-grade video transfer job (2.35:1 anamorphic) the Scorpion Releasing guys pulled off, it looks terrific. An extended Final Showdown race takes up a large chunk of time in the home stretch, representing the best racing visuals the film has to offer.
...just as Freeman passes the finish line, besting his foe and finally winning the race that will give him fame and fortune, he crashes to his death!!! And this isn't just any crash. The sequence is slowed down so we get close-ups on the horrified expressions of Freeman's friends and girlfriend. The bike slams into a wall and -- in graphic detail -- we see the rider crushed against the wall, tangled in the wheels, and dragged a couple of hundred feet down the track. Then, while the audience wails, the motorcycle explodes, engulfing Freeman's body in flame and wreckage. Fade to black. That's it! No final scene at a graveyard, no memorial given by his girlfriend, no drop of a wreath on the tombstone. It's fiery death and roll credits.
The American ending, which is included as the only extra, cuts all of this out, ending the film as Freeman crosses the finish line, alive and well with everyone cheering.
Not Guilty, thanks to some nifty race scenes and the greatest depressive
ending of all time.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Scorpion Releasing
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 111 Minutes
Release Year: 1980
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Alternate Ending