The team get together for a long night of beers, pizzas and DVDs to review what's hot on the box
Why ride through winter when you can live your two-wheeled fantasies vicariously via the magic of television?
If it's possible to do on a bike, someone's done it, filmed it and released it on DVD or video. Then there's the other side of the coin: films with bikes in. Spotting them is a sport itself, and the increasingly impossible things Hollywood convinces film goers that bikes can do are worth a laugh or two.
We took as many DVDs and videos as we could get, a box of beer, a few bottles of wine for the arty types, half-a-dozen pizzas and a great big sofa and settled down for a night of box watching. Barry Norman never did it like this.
7.30 We kick off with Blade II, in which good guy vampire (Wesley Snipes) fights evil vampire (bloke from Bros) and his cronies. The biking bit is at the beginning, when Snipes has a set-to with Ducati-mounted bad guy vampires. Lots of skids, a jump or two, bikes and bad guys get trashed. 5/10 for action, 10/10 for loudness. Time to move on.
7.45 Biker Boyz. Billed (by itself, in what is nearly a sentence) as 'The Extreme Action-Adventure Thrill Ride of the Year', Biker Boyz sees Laurence Fishburne as the daddy of where-it's-at illegal bike racing being challenged for his crown by a mouthy youngster with a good line in threatening pouts. We're too sober and too cynical. If it's meant to be so-bad-it's-good, we're not falling for it. 2/10. Probably should have saved it for later (see Torque).
7.55 The Great Escape. This is more like it. We play the opening credits then jump straight to the end for Steve McQueen's two-wheeled bid for freedom on a half-inched Nazi Beemer (actually a Triumph in disguise). Pure class. 9/10.
8.20 Wallace and Gromit: A Close Shave. Stop-motion Plasticine animation at its finest as Wallace (inventor/window cleaner) and Gromit (dog) have an adventure in a sidecar. Cracking White Helmets-esque display by escaping sheep is unparalleled in cinema. 7/10. See also Indiana Jones and the last Crusade for comedy sidecar routine with Han Solo and James Bond.
8.35 On Any Sunday. The undisputed daddy of bike films, over 30-years old but still as watchable as ever. If you've never seen this (why not?), it's probably not what you're expecting. Still early in the evening and barely a quarter of the alcohol has gone, but the final sequence with Mert Lawill, Mal Smith and Steve McQueen larking about on a beach at sunset has tears in our eyes. 11/10. See also On Any Sunday II for more of the same, but not quite as good.
9.05 American Chopper - The Series. Keeping it Stateside, we dip into Discovery Channel's oddly entertaining fly-on-the-wall series. Watch in mild disbelief as Paul Teutul Sr and his son Paul Jr build frankly ridiculous-looking bikes, argue, slam doors and throw spanners - sorry, wrenches - at each other. You wouldn't think it could make good telly, but it does. 6/10.
9.20 Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. Straight to the improbable supercross/ freestyle MX/chase/shootout scene in which the Angels battle it out with the bad guys, all on 'crossers and with the help of passable CGI effects. Travis Pastrana eat your heart out. 5/10. See also Eight Legged Freaks for entertaining giant spiders v kids on dirtbikes for similar freestyle MX antics.
9.30 Mad Max 2. The definitive post-apocalyptic vision of the future. No one's come close to making us believe this is what the world will end up looking like. Best bit? Most of it, but any scene with the Mohicanned Wez is a winner. 8/10. The original Mad Max is more of a biker film, with The Toecutter and his gang of outlaws who kill Max's family (making him Mad), but we only had that on VHS and couldn't be arsed to fast forward to the good bits.
9.43 Bikefile. Oh dear god. It's the second-ever episode of Men and Motors' 'groundbreaking' secondhand bike buying magazine show starring TWO's 'Mr TV' Warren Pole. We laugh a lot, although this isn't what Wozza would have wanted. Bikefile isn't available to buy or rent. And let's hope it never is. 0/10.
9.45 The Wild One. Hmm. The seminal Brando classic doesn't float the boat on the night. Its only saving grace is showing immediately after the Bikefile debacle. Apparently it's a story of lawless rebels, but Brando's gang of biker thugs look more like a third-rate, early-era Wham! tribute band. More interesting for its opening scenes of small town USA flat track racing, like a black-and-white On Any Sunday. 3/10.
10.00 Top Gun. Tom Cruise fighter pilot story with GPz900R. "No, it was 750," reckons Alex. "Wrong, it was definitely a 900," insists Jon. We spend several minutes arguing, and several more trying to find the scene when he races a jet down the runway on his 900. No, 750. Things start to get nasty. 4/10. See also Hot Shots for pisstake rip-off.
10.12 Silver Dream Racer. Sticking to grainy old videos, it's time for the 1980 David Essex classic. Chirpy Cockerney racer Essex builds a bike in his shed and beats the world. And then dies. It's a cracker. We watch some, not all, and get bored looking for the nightclub bit with Ron Haslam and Mick Grant. Or so the rumour goes. Harry H Corbett from Steptoe & Son is in it too. 6/10.
10.30 Faster. Bloody hell, this is awesome. Filmed behind the MotoGP scenes during the 2001/2002 seasons, and featuring candid interviews with Rossi, Roberts, Schwantz, Doohan, Checa and many more, it also closely follows the then Red Bull Yamaha team's riders, Garry McCoy and John Hopkins. It could have fallen a bit flat given that the 500s are now dead and gone, but it doesn't because it's so well made. And it sees in the dawn of the four-stroke era too. Drags on a little towards the end but still stands head and shoulders above (nearly) everything else here. Possibly the best film about bikes ever made. If you've got friends or family who don't understand/know nowt about bike racing, this is most definitely the film to show them. 10/10.
11.15 Torque. No idea what's going on here, but it makes for compelling viewing. Absolute utter nonsense on two wheels, including bikes racing each other along moving trains and tons of other rubbish that was clouded by alcohol and cigarette smoke. But we all laughed a lot. A tentative 7/10, but watch it sober at your peril.
11.45 2002 World Superbike Championship Review. Essential viewing for the final round showdown at Imola between Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss. Cracking stuff. 8/10. See also Silverstone Dream British GP 1979, with Roberts and Sheene going at it like they're racing each other on LCs round Mallory. Would be better if Sheene won.
11.55 Evel Knievel's Spectacular Jumps. Possibly the most reckless man ever to walk the earth, Knievel took the world's least jumpable motorcycle and literally smashed himself into the record books, time and time again. Here's the proof - he only appears to manage one crash-free landing. Painful to watch, made easier with the numbing effects of alcohol. 7/10
12.10 TT - A Film Documentary. Not quite in Faster's league but well worth a squint. Feature-length behind-the-scenes doc takes an interesting slant by talking to lots of foreign racers and fans, as well as featuring the usual suspects. Followed by On Bike Road Race Experience. Lap after on-board lap of real road racing, including a staggering lap of Steve Hislop's around the full TT course. Very impressive, but makes you feel giddy when pissed. 7/10. See also George Formby's No Limit.
12.42 John Leslie's Fresh Meat 10. Not that John Leslie, but the American porn producer. Tenuous biking link has a Hispanic gentleman sitting astride a Harley-Davidson and pleasuring himself in the company of a lady. 8/10.
12.47 Elvis: That's The Way It Is. In the absence of The King's rollicking 1964 classic Roustabout, in which he tours America on a rubbish old bike in search of stardom (which he had anyway), we finish off with Elvis's definitive rendition of Suspicious Minds, performed live in Las Vegas in 1970. Nowt to do with bikes, but murmurs of approval all round. 100/10.
This is just a sample of some of the biking films out there, the great World's Fastest Indian (read the story here) wasn't available as was John Woo's Mission Impossible II with the Triumph Speed Triple versus T595 scene. What are your favourite biking flicks?
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