On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter | REVIEW

Can the iconic shoes of the original motorcycle documentary be filled?

Like so many motorcyclists, I spent my youth worshipping “On Any Sunday”. Bruce Brown’s iconic 1971 moto-documentary debuted 12 years before I was born, yet it still resonated as an anthem for my life and everything I cared about. The mile-long wheelies, the grit and heroism of professional racers, and the absolutely specific joy that only riding a motorcycle brings.

So I was skeptical, like many other enthusiasts I’m sure, when I heard about “The Next Chapter.” The only preview I saw promised high-flying, high-profile, high-definition action but didn’t suggest anything of the heartfelt human interest and stark behind-the-scenes footage that cemented the original film as an all-time favorite.

For this cynical viewer all it took was the first scene to know that Dana Brown had a firm grasp on his father’s concept; a little girl playing on her tiny electric motorcycle, experiencing for herself the gratifying (and sometimes raw) experience of being on two wheels. That theme of solidary accomplishment, and the community it creates, is vividly and accurately portrayed throughout the film.

Documented in "On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter" is the story of Riders for Health, an organization training for and supporting the use of motorcycles in delivering medical aid to rural Africa.

There are some viewing mountains that are too big for “The Next Chapter” to climb. This is the age of internet videos, after all, and the film suffers for not being able to deliver the audience to places they haven’t seen before. Whether it’s ice racing inside the Arctic Circle, the expansive cathedral of the Bonneville Salt Flats, or the MotoGP paddock, these are places that are piped into our living rooms anytime we choose. There are also obvious politics at play. Is it a coincidence that this film from Red Bull Media House features Red Bull-sponsored riders Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez as the snapshot of Grand Prix motorcycle racing, rather than the most successful road racer of our generation, (Monster Energy-sponsored) Valentino Rossi?

For the most part, though, the people and stories seem to have been thoroughly sought out and documented by Brown and his crew. Characters, both famous and obscure, present themselves with heart and conviction and do well to carry the story along. Where the original “On Any Sunday” acknowledged that each motorcyclist is a personality with a tale worth telling, “The Next Chapter” embraces the same mantra. From the unknowingly brave citizens of Ho Chi Minh City on scooters to the highest-paid motorcycle athletes in the world, their stories hold the same weight.

Although the sequel was more than 40 years in the making (or maybe especially because it took so long) I still found myself hugely skeptical of anyone trying to replicate the original film's charm. Even with Bruce Brown's eldest son at the helm, how could anyone capture motorcycling as brilliantly as "On Any Sunday"? How could we possibly see the delicacies, nuances, and minutiae so perfectly blended with the unforgiving violence of motorcycling?

Now, finally, we can. “The Next Chapter” is a credible sequel. It won’t be remembered or revered in the same way as the original, but as a lifelong motorcyclist it stirred the love, fear, and dedication I feel for motorcycles in a meaningful way. I plan to watch it again as soon as I can.

Sneak Peek - Marc Marquez Talks 2013:

Documented in "On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter" is the story of Riders for Health, an organization training for and supporting the use of motorcycles in delivering medical aid to rural Africa.
A scene from the original "On Any Sunday", which debuted in 1971.
Mert Lawwill in action in a scene from the original, 1971 documentary "On Any Sunday"