REVIEW: On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter

Sequel to the classic On Any Sunday is directed by Dana Brown, Bruce’s son.

Dana and Bruce Brown portrait

Forty-three years after the original so effectively captured the US motorcycle scene, On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter is using the same template as the original to bring the story up to date. Adding authenticity to the sequel is the fact it's directed by Dana Brown, son of Bruce Brown, the original's director.

Just like the original, The Next Chapter focuses on a variety of different riders and disciplines. When it is released in cinemas across the US on November 7, CW readers are likely to recognize Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, freestyle motocross stars Robbie Maddison and Travis Pastrana, motocross champion Doug Henry, and custom bike builder, Roland Sands. Lesser-known riders like Carlin Dunne and female motocrosser Ashley Fiolek also share their stories.

While the 1971 film concentrated almost exclusively on sport, The Next Chapter casts its net wider with one section describing the work of UK-based charity Riders for Health. The film crew travels to Zambia to ride with the doctors who use bikes to care for hundreds of inhabitants in remote villages.

CW favorite Roland Sands is also included, talking to Mickey Rourke, the actor for whom Sands' company built a gold-plated Harley street racer. There are also clips of truly hectic commuting in Vietnam's capital, Ho Chi Minh city. It offers a couple of laughs, but make the film less cohesive than the original, straying from the Sunday-only recipe.

Roland Sands and Dana Brown portrait

Cutting edge equipment and 4K-quality filming (twice the definition of normal cinema) bring action alive. The section at Pikes Peak, where Carlin Dunne races a Lightning electric superbike, left me wanting more. The super slo-mo of motocross superstar James "Bubba" Stewart is fresh, making as much of an impact as anything I've seen in MotoGP. But the film doesn't hit the mark every time.

Both the first On Any Sunday and The Next Chapter are narrated by the directors, Bruce and Dana Brown, respectively, but with the advances in recording and filming technology, there are far more interviews and quotes from riders in the new movie. Unfortunately, many of the quotes add little or nothing.

It makes some kind of sense to include Kenny Roberts and Mert Lawwill, one of the stars of the original, but neither set the screen alight. And what’s Bo Derek doing in there? (Answer: nothing memorable).

What the film does well is introduce riders who have dealt with an adversity but kept riding. Ashley Fiolek is deaf, but it hasn’t stopped her become a top motocross racer. Jake McCullough is a one-armed amateur flat tracker who races with the help of a prosthetic hand designed by Mert Lawwill.

Doug Henry, one of the all-time greats of American motocross, was paralyzed from the waist down in a racing accident, but he wasn’t finished with riding, so he had a roll-cage of his own design fitted to a Yamaha 450 motocrosser. He is infectiously optimistic and a true role model. The film follows him on a ride through the woods with his friend Travis Pastrana, then into the foam pit as Henry attempts back-flips for the very first time.

MotoGP race action film still

The Next Chapter promises to give more insight into the minds of riders like pro racers, but other than one glimpse of Pedrosa it didn't offer much new from a MotoGP perspective. It didn't help that during every one-to-one interview the riders are in their corporate HRC Repsol shirts. The section with stunt stars Travis Pastrana and Robbie Maddison are more insightful, showing them training and with their young families.

Maddison is followed as he prepares to launch from an Olympic ski jump—an exclusive for The Next Chapter. The Australian leaps 378 feet, while dropping 200 feet (the equivalent of an 18-story building).

While not perfect, the movie radiates positivity and good times. As a PR film for motorcycling, it’ll take some beating, but it’s not a puff piece. There are too many broken bones and high-speed crashes for that.

Crucially, the documentary gets a theatrical release in the US. “It opens in 250 theaters in the 40 biggest markets,” says Dana Brown, who adds, “with Red Bull’s ability to market, people will know.”

Like the original, On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter is a time capsule frozen for us to nibble on forever more. I can't wait until James Stewart's MX gear turns retro cool (but I'm not holding my breath).

Dana and Bruce Brown.

Roland Sands and Dana Brown.

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Dana and Bruce Brown.