Every so often there is a movie that critics and the general audience have very different opinions of. One of those movies was Rad which was released back in 1986. The movie was panned by critics, but it actually has received pretty favorable ratings from general audiences. I have to admit that I had never heard of the movie until recently. This is probably due to the fact that the movie came out a couple years before I was born and I have never really been into BMX. I was curious about the movie though as I generally like 1980s and sports movies. Rad is not a masterpiece, but it is a solid movie that gives you everything you expect from a 1980s sports movie.
Rad follows the tale of Cru Jones. He is the best BMX rider in his small town of Cochrane and wishes to pursue his dream of becoming a professional. One day the famed Helltrack competition comes to town giving Cru the chance to finally prove his skills to the world. The competition for the race is intense though as it features the best riders from around the world. Not everyone wants him to compete either as his mother wants him to focus on his studies. The promoter of the race has his own intentions for the race as well and tries to sabotage his chances. Will Cru be able to overcome all of the obstacles in his way and win Helltrack?
So before I get into my thoughts on Rad I wanted to lay out a couple things that impacted my opinion of the movie. As I already mentioned Rad came out a couple years before I was born so I had never seen the movie. Therefore nostalgia had no impact on my opinion of the movie. Second I don’t really have much interest in BMX. I have nothing against BMX, but I have never found it to be all that interesting.
With that said, in many ways Rad is exactly what I expected it to be. The movie is basically the very definition of a 1980s teen sports movie. This is not meant to be taken as an insult, as Rad is not a bad movie. I wouldn’t say that it is particularly original, as it shares a lot in common with many other similar movies from that era. From the overall plot of a small town kid trying to fulfill their dreams to the typical villain tropes that were in a lot of movies from this era, there is nothing particularly original that this movie has to offer outside of the BMX theme. If you are looking for an original movie or generally hate typical 1980s movies, you probably won’t like Rad.
Fans of 1980s movies will likely enjoy Rad though. The movie basically hits on all of the elements from this era of movies that people love. I am a big fan of 1980s movies and I enjoyed the movie. There is just something about 1980s movies that you don’t really see in other eras. The movie is kind of cheesy and parts of the story are unbelievable/stupid, but the movie succeeds at just being simple fun. If you have seen a few movies in this genre, you already have a pretty good idea of what is going to happen in Rad. It does a pretty good job recreating what is most enjoyable about the genre though. The movie also has its share of funny moments.
As for the BMX action I am far from an expert so I can’t say whether it is actually a good BMX movie. I am not really a fan of BMX, but I found these elements to be entertaining enough. There are some pretty impressive bike tricks in the movie and the races are fairly entertaining as well. The movie actually features quite a few different montages of tricks and races. BMX is more than just the background theme as it plays a real role in the movie. As I enjoyed these elements despite not really being interested in BMX, I think fans of the sport will really enjoy Rad. Rad seems to have been one of the movies from the 1980s that helped create a lot of people’s love of BMX.
Like a lot of movies from this genre, I would say that the acting if pretty hit or miss. I would say some of the actors are pretty good, and others can be pretty bad. Honestly the most notable name in the movie is Lori Loughlin. The acting is not so bad that it becomes distracting, but it was obvious that no acting awards were given out to this movie.
Rad for a long time was a movie that was mostly forgotten to time. For a long time the movie wasn’t available online and it was really hard to find a physical copy of it. Last year the movie was released in HD on Blu-ray and 4K by Vinegar Syndrome, but that release was limited. Yesterday (March 16th, 2021) Mill Creek Entertainment released a new version of the movie on Blu-ray in a steelbook case. This is the copy of the movie that I used for this review.
As for the Blu-ray’s video quality, I will say that it looks pretty good. The video was apparently taken from the original camera negatives. It does feature film grain and other particles typical of movies shot 35 years ago. The video quality is not going to compare to a recent film, but what do you expect from a movie that is 35 years old at this point. The film quality is not perfect, but I don’t see ever getting a version of this film that will look better (outside of the 4K release obviously). Fans of the movie or 1980s movies in general should really appreciate the video quality.
The Mill Creek Entertainment release of the movie also includes a few special features which are as follows:
- Rad Q&A Session (40:59) – An interview with cast members Bill Allen, Talia Shire, Bart Conner, screenwriter Sam Bernard, and hosted by Jorma Taccone. This feature was shot pretty recently and is basically a look back at how the movie was made and its impact.
- Archival Video Interview with Cast and Crew (10:47) – This feature includes interviews with Bart Conner, Lori Loughlin, Bill Allen, and director Hal Needham. The interviews are mostly focused on how the movie was made. The footage was shot during the making of the movie so it is only in standard definition.
- Original Behind-The-Scenes Featurette (5:00) – A pretty standard behind the scenes look at the movie made around the time that it was released. Standard definition only.
- “Break the Ice” Music Video (3:34) – Pretty much your standard music video mixed with scenes from the movie.
The special features are pretty typical. Fans of the movie will probably really appreciate them. In particular I think the Rad Q&A Session is probably the best as it is the most informative. It is mostly a look back at the film and its impact. The special features shot during filming are kind of generic and don’t really give you a whole lot of new information. Basically if you are a big fan of the movie, I would recommend checking them out. If you only somewhat enjoyed the movie though, I think you could probably skip them and not miss out on much.
Rad is pretty much what you would expect from a 1980s teen sports movie. Basically take any other 1980s sports movie and put in BMX racing, and you will pretty much have Rad. This shouldn’t really be taken as an insult. The movie might not be particularly original, but it is still an enjoyable movie. It has the same charm as a lot of 1980s movies from that genre. Even though I am not a fan of BMX, the bike sequences are pretty good. The story is predictable to anyone who has ever watched a movie from the era, but it is still fun. The acting can be a little hit or miss though. While the video quality won’t compare to current movies, the Blu-ray also deserves a lot of credit as it is about the best that you could expect from a 35 year old movie.
If you have no interest in 1980s sports movies, Rad probably won’t be for you. Fans of BMX or sports movies from the 1980s though should get enough out of Rad to make it worth checking out.
Buy Rad online: Amazon
We would like to thank Mill Creek Entertainment for the review copy of Rad used for this review. Other than receiving the review copy we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation. Receiving the review copy had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.