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Motorcycle riders display reckless beauty on film

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Some people love their motorcycles. And people do crazy things when they’re in love.

"We’re just a bunch of fools," says one speedway enthusiast, and it’s tough to argue against that statement — especially when one realizes among their bikes’ requirements are no suspensions … or brakes. They race. They go flying. They get up and race some more.

The expertly shot documentary sequel/Red Bull advertisement "On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter" makes a virtue out of recklessness. This high-production-value effort undeniably scores big on the "Awesome, Dude!" scale. It contains one spectacular shot after another of death-defying feats and everyday accomplishments of amazing balance, all on two wheels.

This is actually the fifth "On Any Sunday" entry; Bruce Brown’s 1971 original is regarded as a sacred relic of the motorcycle-worship cult. Brown’s son, Dana ("Step Into Liquid"), has directed the last three sequels, including this one, which is a "Red Bull Media House" production — and you thought the "advertisement" crack was a joke. There is as much product placement in the film as caffeine, sugar and taurine in the drink.

If one doesn’t get too jittery from the Red Bull saturation on caps, uniforms, billboards, cars, helmets and presumably strobed at subliminal rates throughout the film, the only other thing to pooh-pooh would be the deep-in-denial selling of the moto-lifestyle as wholesome family fun.

"It’s dangerous and you get hurt, but it’s worth it," says one bike lover, in the context of very young children learning to motocross.

Rated: PG
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Opens Friday at Dole Cannery Stadium 18

Live and let live, except for the four-times-greater rate of fatalities in highway motorcycle accidents as opposed to car crashes, according to the NHTSB. So live and let live … a lot less. And that’s just on highways; it doesn’t account for the exploits of some of these concussion-cannon maestros on the dirt accordions they traverse at break-back velocities. It does send a chill up the spine to see some riders prop toddlers on their laps (at ambling speeds).

But that’s just a sidecar; if you’re in this audience, you’re not there for safety tips. Even enthusiasts interviewed laughingly acknowledge their hobby has overridden their self-preservation instincts.

Get over that, and there is some truly impressive stuff to behold in "The Next Chapter," such as the athleticism and precision of top-level MotoGP heroes, scraping their padded knee sliders on the track as they go nearly flat-parallel on 100-mph turns.

The segment with Robbie Maddison, this generation’s Evel Knievel, will drop any jaw not wired shut. His long-, long-, long-distance jumps and stunts are something to behold. Brown and his crack crew capture his flights with all the grace 4K HD can amaze us with.

Whether extreme sports trick-jumpers, a nearly unfinishable race on an impossible Austrian mountain course or ordinary Vietnamese citizens balancing absurd amounts of cargo on their motorbikes in jammed traffic, Brown finds the beauty in his two-wheeled subjects.

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