Best known for his early
1970s pop hit, "Rock on", David Essex pulled double duty on SILVER
DREAM RACER by providing the film its soundtrack and serving as its lead. Serving
such a dual role was not unheard of for Essex as most of the pictures he filmed
prior to RACER (THAT’LL BE THE DAY, STARDUST) featured at least one of
his tunes on their accompanying soundtracks. As an actor and a composer, Essex
does not disappoint, turning in a number of tracks that complement their intended
scenes quite nicely and delivering a believably snarky lead performance that
grows on you before ultimately breaking your heart.
One man’s loss is another man’s gain in SILVER DREAM RACER, an underdog tale set in the world of professional motorcycle racing. Nick Freeman (David Essex) dreams of winning a race, any race. He has the talent, he has the mindset but he doesn’t have the bike. Having run his old pair of wheels into the ground, Nick is left with few options and little opportunity in which to one up his American rival, Bruce McBride (Beau Bridges, VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS), that is until the untimely death of his brother. Before the tragic motorcycle accident that cost him his life, Nick’s brother was working on a prototype for a new kind of bike. One that was lighter, leaner and faster. Wanting nothing to do with the project that took up so much of his time, Nick’s sister-in-law insists that he leave with the bike that just might turn out to be the miracle he has been praying for. Despite the concerns of his mechanic and only friend, Cider (Clarke Peters), Nick begins to train and modify the bike with the goal of competing against McBride in the big race. The long hours spent training lead to Nick losing his job and live-in girlfriend but it doesn’t take long for him to bounce back. While looking for someone to back him and his new bike, Nick befriends Julie Price (Cristina Raines, THE DUELLISTS), the little sister of a fellow biker who died while racing McBride and his crew. Having had it with McBride and his asshole antics, Julie joins Team Freeman, helping Nick to find the funds to compete in the big race. She may however regret her decision as Nick's drive to win above all odds leaves him to risk his life and livelihood in front of the revved up eyes of thousands of bike fans.
The only thing that separates SILVER DREAM RACER from your average, run-of-the-mill, underdog sports story is its abrupt, ghastly ending. I hate to spoil the picture for anyone who hasn’t seen it so let’s just say the picture ends on kind of a downer. Nick does win the race. I don’t think saying that really spoils anything as it is all but expected in this type of picture. It’s what happens after Nick wins the race that is unexpected, though the incident is foreshadowed by Cristina’s character mere moments before it happens. The ending twists the picture on its head, leaving the viewer awestruck but not all together surprised as such an incident is somewhat expected, if not anticipated given the venue, though few films have dared to show such realistic consequences, especially after such a come-from-behind, upbeat finale.
OK, I guess there’s no getting around it. It’s hard not to talk about SILVER DREAM RACER and not discuss the ending. The picture has a number of effectively zippy race sequences, thanks to cinematographer Paul Beeson (THE LOST CONTINENT), and both Beau and Cristina Raines do rather superb work in their supporting roles but it’s the ending that make the picture memorable so ***spoiler alert***, he crashes! Violently! Like an idiot, Nick raises his hands in defiant victory as he crosses the finish line, leaving his bike off balance and wobbly until eventually the whole thing gets away from him and crashes into the side wall. I’ve heard that in an accident it feels as if time plays out in slow motion and David Wickes does just that for DREAM’s finale. Time slows to a crawl the second before Nick crashes and for every subsequent moment that his body collides and folds in unto itself like a paper doll. Thrown against the bike and then the wall Nick's body looks like a leaf in a sudden gust of wind and then, cut to credits. The end. No time for closure. That’s all folks. Sorry, shit happens. So if you suffer from depression or are otherwise easily bummed out, don’t sit down with SILVER DREAM RACER before refilling that Wellbutrin prescription as you may want to have a couple of those bad boys handy.
Preserving the film’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Scorpion Releasing presents SILVER DREAM RACER with an anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks spot on. Save for a very brief instance in which a wavy black line dances across the screen just before the 28 minute mark, the picture looks outstanding, with accurate coloring and plenty of detail. The English language mono mix is equally as pleasant, presenting both dialogue and Essex’s tunes clean and clear. The only extra on this release is the films American ending which cuts to credits just as Nick crosses the finish line. (Jason McElreath)
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