Space Riders by Skids Poppe
I can’t believe I did it again. I saw the video and was compelled to bring it home. I know what I said, but I guess the marketing guys are doing their homework because I really wanted to see another film that had the word “riders” in the title. I could’ve killed myself. But here I was, popping in a tape called Space Riders and actually getting ready to enjoy it, before I even knew what was happening.
In my own defense, the film stars Barry Sheene, multiple winner of some racing circuit and the cover has a way cool racer going down on one knee. And with a name like “Space Riders”, I thought it was about motorcyclist aliens from outer space.
Okay, the back told me it wasn’t about space aliens but a film about racing that promised near fatal crashes was a close second. And this film didn’t disappoint.
The opening footage is from a race in 1982 where our pal Barry, who plays himself (and he’s not bad, although the accent seems forced), manages not to avoid a large obstacle in the middle of the racetrack (another bike) and goes flying across the field in a heap. But it’s okay, he ends up safe against the wall of hay and as long as he stays there, nothing more could possibly happen. Oh no…I wrote too soon…Here comes another bike which crashes over Barry’s legs and lands on top of him. Not a fun way for him to begin his film career.
A year later and some imaginary Japanese company (like we don’t have enough real ones to worry about) decides to bring plot to this film. They decide to hire the three top riders in the world to race for them. The three are Barry, who’s British, Ron Harris, an American and a Japanese rider named Yamashta. These three become great friends and the rest of the films 93 minutes is spent following them around the world racing. Sure, there’s a small plot about another rider on another team who’s a cardboard characterization of an American Bastard and Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi on Star Trek: The Next Generation) plays “Girl in Porsche.” Nice to know her career started somewhere.
Now here’s the problem. If the entire thing had been filled with action race shots and great explosions it would have been well worth it to rent, but the Hollywood wannabe who’s telling the camera where to point has no clue how to make an action film happen. He goes to slow motion in all the wrong places and the second truly spectacular explosion is never seen well enough to know who went flying through the air while on fire. And at the end, when Barry wins the championship (big surprise, huh?), there is absolutely no dramatic tension or suspense. He wins, they interview him and the film ends. Really boring.
This would have been better suited as an actual documentary rather than try and attach a story to something that already has one inherent in it. Go to the race track any Sunday they’re running, you’ll find more excitement than you had in this film.