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Feeble off-road racing action pic that raises a flicker of interest due to the presence of a young Susan Sarandon (who is given very little to do) and Joe Don Baker in his brief early career as a leading man. Joe Don stars as "Walkaway" Madden, a hard-core racer whose "crash or win" attitude brings him into conflict with his fellow racers. Sarandon is a journalist in the George Plimpton mode, out to get the inside view of a 1000-mile race held in the Philippines. Larry Hagman also features, in a bold casting against type, as a fast talking wheeler-dealing Southern entrepreneur who runs the race.
The film bogs at the start and never recovers, due to woeful dialogue and absent character development. After journalist Wainwright (Sarandon)persuades a reluctant Madden to allow her to ride in his race car during the event, the next half hour or so consists of the two leads engaging in a stilted and repetitive dialogue about what to do if Wainwright develops motion sickness, interspersed with reasonably well-edited race footage.
The 3-day race format imposes a rigid structure to the film, with race days interspersed with character "interaction" in the pits. There is a tiny romantic sub-plot with an anonymous black clad biker ("acted" by Playboy playmate Daina House) getting off with a stereotyped suave Latino Grand Prix driver. No sex scene, though - this is an action picture!
The action footage is not bad and the stunt guys really earned their money on this one, but there are too many camera in the car shots on rough roads where the camera is jolting around so much that the picture is hopelessly blurred and the effect is quite nauseating. Perhaps this film inspired the camera work on "Blair Witch Project", I don't know. There are a few picture-postcard shots of delightful Filipino scenery, and I just wonder if some Marcos money was behind this film.
In summary, a waste of the talents of Sarandon and Baker, who have both done vastly better when given better material. Despite being a documentary, "On Any Sunday" is a superior off-road racing film in every respect. Susan Sarandon fans would be better off sticking to her later roles if this is anything to go by. I imagine that casting agents saw this talented young but unconventionally beautiful actress and had no idea what to do with her. As for Joe Don Baker, yet another blot on this underrated actor's record. It's a shame he wasn't born in London instead of Texas. Watch "Edge of Darkness" if you don't understand what I mean.
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