Rad is a 1986 sports film directed by stuntman Hal Needham (Smokey and the Bandit franchise, Hooper, The Cannonball Run 1/2, and Body Slam). It was written by Sam Bernard (Warlock: The Armageddon, Blood Surf, Payback, Dark Tide, and The Chain) and Geoffrey Edwards (Trail of the Pink Panther, Curse of the Pink Panther, and The Man Who Loved Women). It was produced by Robert L. Levy (Smokey and the Bandit, Point Break, Mikey, Warlock: The Armageddon, Full Eclipse, Wedding Crashers, and She’s All That). The budget was $3 million and it only grossed $2 million at the box office but it became a hit on home video years later. Boutique label VinegarSyndrome did a 4K restoration and released it on UHD in 2020 which sold out lighting fast. It’s become one of the most wanted home video releases recently and Mill Creek gave it’s first wide distribution in a long time here!!!!
Cru Jones (played by: Bill Allen from Breaking Bad, Nightkill, Assault in Paradise, and Streamers) is an aggressive teenage BMX racer who lives in a small town with his younger sister Wesley (played by: Laura Jacoby from Uncle Buck, Valley Girl, Hell Town, and Punchline) and their mother (played by: Talia Shire from the Rocky franchise, the Godfather franchise, Windows, and Prophecy). Cru is faced with a tough decision to either qualify for Helltrack, or take the SAT in order to attend college. Winning Helltrack means $100,000, a new Chevrolet Corvette, and fame. Cru chooses to try to achieve his dream against his mother’s wishes. The Helltrack race is endorsed by the city plus Duke Best (played by: Jack Weston from Dirty Dancing, Short Circuit 2, Wait Until Dark, and The Thomas Crown Affair), the duplicitous president of the Federation of American Bicyclists and the owner of Mongoose Racing. Duke tries his best to keep changing the rules so Cru can’t compete against his team at the big race.
BMX star and Mongoose Racing captain Bart Taylor (played by: Bart Conner from Death and Texas, Highway to Heaven, and Challenge of a Lifetime) is the favorite to win it all. Numerous BMX racers show up for Helltrack. Cru meets Christian Hollings (played by: Lori Loughlin from Full/Fuller House, The New Kids, Amityville 3-D, The Night Before, and Secret Admirer) there. They have a connection right away. It makes things worse for the ambitious biker and Bart Taylor becomes his enemy over it. Cru is pushed away several times from qualifying but Wesley customizes a shirt for him to wear at the event “Cru is…RAD”. Cru and his friends use the money he won from qualifying to found a small T-shirt business: “Rad Racing.” to secure his spot at the race. The wealthy Mr. Timmer (played by: Ray Walston from Popeye, Popcorn, The Sting, Silver Streak, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Galaxy of Terror) donates the rest that Rad needs to enter the last minute so they can compete at Helltrack. Can he beat the odds and win this competitive ride????
Rad is way better than expected. It’s a solid sports underdog story and film, I am a big fan of that sub-genre. It’s probably not saying much because they haven’t made lots of them but it’s one of the best BMX movies ever made. Just think Karate Kid but with bikes! The script was perfect for this type of feature, the main roles had some great character development here. It had some of the best bikes around at the time, impressive stunts, and tricks in this. The director came from being a stuntman so he was right at home with these visuals needed for this production. Bill Allen was a solid lead and he was really good at BMX for being an actor. This is one of Lori Loughlin’s better performances and she had great chemistry with Bill Allen. Bart Conner was a legit Olympic athlete so he brought realness to Rad and made everyone better around him. The best thing about Rad is it’s impressive supporting cast that includes Talia Shire, Jack Weston, Ray Walston, Laura Jacoby, and H.B. Haggerty (Foxy Brown and Deathsport). Rad has a little bit of everything here which includes sports, racing, romance, drama, comedy, and competitive action. The soundtrack and score is pure classic 80’s, a few of tracks always make you think of Rad when you hear them. This one has top notch replay value. This really helped BMx blow up back in the day. Rad is fun and entertaining time capsule for the 80’s, RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Mill Creek Entertainment! This 1080p (1.85:1) transfer is from VinegarSyndrome‘s 4K restoration from last year. Obviously, this one isn’t as good as their own out of print 4K/UHD release but it still looks amazing especially compared to all the past home video releases. This is one of the best looking and highest quality transfers ever released by Mill Creek Entertainment. The English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is the same as the previous Vinegar Syndrome but that one did have an additional 2.0 track if you are curious. The audio here is a huge improvement from the past. All of the dialogue is crystal clear, all the bike action is elevated, and the awesome soundtrack has a killer boost to it. It has English SDH subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features from Mill Creek Entertainment! “Rad Q&A Session” is almost 41 minutes. It includes Screenwriter Sam Bernard and cast members Bill Allen, Talia Shire, and Bart Conner plus it’s moderated by Jorma Taccone. They chat about how they got involved with the movie. They talk about how it didn’t do well at first but gained a cult following years later. They say it grows bigger every day and it’s still getting new fans. They bring up some of their favorite scenes and lines from Rad. They tell stories about their personal experiences when it came to Rad. They reveal Bart Conner was actually hurt the entire production and had a stunt double do most of his work here. This extra is actually somewhat new unlike the others. “Archival Video Interviews with Cast and Crew” is almost 11 minutes. It has interviews with actors Bart Conner, Lori Loughlin, and Bill Allen. They chat about their experience on Rad. They talk about their characters the cast for the film. They share some of their favorite things about it. “Original Behind-the-Scenes Featurette” is 5 minutes. It has interviews with the cast and crew. It goes over the history of bicycles and BMX racing. It focuses on the director and the main cast for the feature. It has the John Farnham “Break The Ice” music video. The Vinegar Syndrome release was loaded with so many other extras (3 audio commentaries, 3 interviews, 25th anniversary, photo gallery, and trailer) so if you are a die hard fan plus slightly rich, you might want to find that out of the print/rare 4K release. I’d imagine most Rad fans will be okay with this bargain release to save all kinds of money for additional blu ray purchases because it’s a huge difference in price when compared. I will say that I think the packing here is way better than the original. This Mondo X steel book and artwork is top notch. It comes with a clear slipcover and a digital code. This is one of the best Mill Creek home video releases in a long time. If you are into 80’s films, BMX, and sports in general then this needs to be in your collection. This limited edition Mondo steel book is already hard to get but it’s available at some spots still. A standard version is being released on Aug 17th by Mill Creek, that one will be easier to find plus even cheaper. CHECK IT OUT!!!!