At long last a day that I never thought would come is here! I have in my hands a legitimate copy of the 1986 cult classic Rad in my hands! Vinegar Syndrome has stepped up to the plate like they have several times before and have delivered a much wanted film to the masses: Rad in Blu-Ray and 4K glory!
I remember Rad used to come on HBO all the time when I was a kid. And I would be inspired as I would go outside with my bike shortly after the credits would begin to roll. I was nowhere near as good as the bikers in the film and I could barely pull off a couple of the tricks, but it was fun to try. Here I am years later, and I could not wait to pop the disc in to see if Rad still holds up after all this time.
Rad is about high schooler Cru Jones (Bill Allen). Jones lives in a small town with his mother (Talia Shire) and younger sister. He’s a talented BMX rider that delivers newspapers with his two friends and is preparing to take his SATs so he can attend college.
Cru’s life gets turned upside down when Duke Best, (Jack Weston) the president of The Federation of American Bicyclists and owner of Mongoose bicycles comes to town with his superstar bikers promoting the race called Helltrack. Helltrack provides a new opportunity for Cru with the temptation of winning $100,000, a new Corvette, and becoming famous for winning the prestigious race. Now Cru must decide between taking the SATs and pleasing his mother or taking this once in a lifetime chance and risk it all to win Helltrack!
The plot is simple; win it all! Best is the true bad guy in the film because he views Cru as a threat to his golden boy, Bart Taylor (Olympic gymnastic champion Bart Conner). Best sets to make millions in endorsements and merchandising if Bart Taylor wins. However, if Cru wins then it all goes down the drain and the investments are worthless. Best bribes Cru, but Cru isn’t some punk sell out and moves on with his dream of winning Helltrack.
Taylor is a paper-thin rival who appears to have more conflict with Christian (Lori Loughlin) then he does with Cru. Christian is the top lady’s rider, but Taylor doesn’t think she fits in with the team anymore. Then Christian begins to mentor Cru and helps him to finally learn to Airwalk, (backflip) a trick that he has difficulty landing. Christian and Cru’s budding romance becomes solidified when they go “ass sliding”. As I would imagine everyone who is in love does in this small town. Grab your lover and slide down a drain ditch into the dirty ass river!
I absolutely love Rad! It held up to my childhood memories. Granted now that I am adult (depending on who you ask) I noticed more of the cornier moments in the film. One being how detrimental it is for Cru to take his SATs. Cru even tells him mom he can take them in six months. The highlights include the qualifying races for Helltrack, the actual Helltrack race, and Cru and his friends being chased by the local police Sargent through the lumberyard. Only to have the Sargent in the end telling Cru “Go balls out!” when it is time for the finale at Helltrack.
The music is true 80s pop through and through. Including the hit “Send Me an Angel” by Real Life. I am willing to bet you have heard the song even if you haven’t seen Rad. BUT you can’t truly appreciate it until you see Cru and Christian doing a bike duet to the song at the local dance. The bike scenes are entertaining, and I can only imagine how many times the bikers raced to get all the angles and shots.
Vinegar Syndrome kills it again with the special features. First off, pressing the film in 4K is a feat of its own. The film looks and sounds great! I have read complaints there are issues with the music and pixilation at parts. I have watched both the 4K and Blu-Ray and didn’t have any issues. The special features include interviews with director Hal Needham, (Smokey and the Bandit) writer Sam Bernard, actor Bart Conner, footage from the Rad 25th Anniversary event, music videos, archival features from the ¾ press kit and the original trailer. Vinegar Syndrome never disappoints.
If you are a fan of Rad, then this is a MUST own. I don’t care if your laserdisc is still in great shape or you love your VHS still. This is well worth the upgrade. Plus you get VS’s signature slipcovers that always look awesome! Rad comes with a lenticular cover that looks great! At the time I am writing this the Vinegar Syndrome website is still down due to them filling all the “Halfway to Black Friday” orders, but you better head over and pick one up once the site goes live again. This is a one time pressing and once they are gone, they are gone! So, order a copy and curl up beside your loved one and prepare to go ass sliding!