Review: Bikers test themselves, machines in ‘On Any Sunday’ documentary
There’s something about motorcycles and motorcycle documentaries that bring out the kid in us all. The immediacy of the experience, the speed, the hair’s breadth away from danger, good films get across the intoxicating hobby and sport that is practiced the world over.
“On Any Sunday” was the definitive “Sunday ride/Sunday race” motorcycle film. Released in 1971 by famed surf-documentary pioneer Bruce Brown, it showed the broad expanse of the motorcycling experience in the America of that time, from serious racers to enthusiasts like movie star Steve McQueen.
“On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter” is an updating of that film by Brown’s veteran filmmaker son, Dana. It goes global, capturing dirt-track racing in California, motocross, MotoGP-track racing, kids getting hooked early, Vietnamese using bikes as trucks and Africans revolutionizing malaria diagnosis and treatment with the aid of two-wheelers.
Cameras have gotten smaller and sharper, many corners of the sport have become institutionalized, a fact underlined by Red Bull’s sponsorship of riders and backing of this film.
But the thrill is still there. Brown, narrating this tale about those who walk the line “between the insane and the sublime,” gets it.
He skips to so many places, profiles so many racers, that “Next Chapter” feels rushed, the briefest of overviews of the state of motorcycling.
Brown and his camera team don’t overdo the use of the modern GoPro cameras, but that footage peppers and spices up the lovely slow-mo races, 360s and crashes captured here.
The whole affair feels slicker, less DIY, less outlaw than the bikers and races of Brown’s father’s film.
But Brown still manages to deliver a fun and enticing biker documentary that reminds us all that we never really grow out of our first mastery of vehicles on two wheels.
Roger Moore reviews movies for McClatchy News Service.