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directed by David Wickes
UK 1980

 

British motor bike racer Nick (David Essex, STARDUST) lacks a sponsor and a decent pair of wheels; in contrast to American rival Bruce (Beau Bridges, THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS), who also has a hot girl Julia (Christina Raines, THE SENTINEL) at his side. When his brother dies in an accident, his sister-in-law allows him to dispose of his brother's bike parts. In the garage, he discovers a silver motorcycle prototype (actually designed by Barton Engineering head Barry Hart) that his brother had been working on in secret. Nick starts working on the bike with only the help of his mechanic Cider (Clarke Peters, MONA LISA) since his drive estranges him from his girlfriend, sister-in-law, and causes him to lose his job. Julia breaks it off with the arrogant Bruce and helps Nick find investors for his entry into "the big race" in which Nick hopes to beat Bruce, but Nick may not make it out of the race alive as he pushes the already souped-up bike beyond its enhance capabilities. For the bulk of its running time, SILVER DREAM RACER plays like a "root for the underdog rather than the asshole" sports drama; that is, until the ending (which was changed to better conform to the formula in the version that American viewers are most familiar with). Singer-turned-actor Essex has the acting chops (his stage work included musicals like GODSPELL, EVITA and a musical version of MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY), but his character is pretty hard to root for. Although Bruce proclaims himself "your friendly neighborhood asshole," he is generally more charismatic than Nick (perhaps the scripters went overboard in contrasting the two characters). Essex performed the theme song, but the film's score was composed by John Cameron, who had previously composed the score for PSYCHOMANIA, a supernatural British biker movie. The racing scenes lack the verve of American racing movies (whatever the vehicle). There are no bike-mounted camera angles, some close shots of the racers use obvious back projection, and the undercranking is extremely unsubtle. The editing also lacks verve whenever it does not have Essex's music to follow. The cinematography of Paul Beeson (STARCRASH) overuses star and diffusion filters in the exteriors, so much so that out of focus areas look mushy. On the plus side, the supporting cast is pleasantly peopled with some recognizable British film faces like T.P. McKenna (STRAW DOGS), Lee Montague (THE LEGACY), Sheila White (CONFESSIONS OF A DRIVING INSTRUCTOR), Ed Bishop (2001), Nick Brimble (FRANKENSTEIN UNBOUND), and Harry Corbett of STEPTOE AND SON (the British series that inspired American TV's SANFORD AND SON).

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 1983 (USA)

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DVD Review: Scorpion Releasing - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Distribution

Scorpion Releasing

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:51:24
Video

2.29:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.94 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Scorpion Releasing

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.29:1

Edition Details:
• U.S. Ending (16:9; 4:56)

DVD Release Date: November 22nd, 2010
Amaray

Chapters 16

 

Comments

While some of the softness seems to be a fault of the generally terrible cinematography (with its overzealous use of diffusing and star filters in most of the exteriors), Scorpion's progressive, dual-layer, anamorphic transfer appears to be sourced from a very poor master (like all other Scorpion titles licensed from Rank, the disc is coded for Region 1 only).

The stereo track is active during the music (particularly the David Essex theme song and its instrumental versions) and riding scenes (although not as much as one would expect). The sole extra is the American ending which abridges the final shot to different effect. The UK DVD from Network also featured the alternate ending, but the feature was non-anamorphic widescreen (the prior UK DVD from Carlton was panned-and-scanned and utilized the alternate ending as part of the feature.)

  - Eric Cotenas

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Distribution

Scorpion Releasing

Region 1 - NTSC

 




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