Top 5 Movie Guide: Motorcycle Films

For this edition of the Top 5 Movie Guide, with this weekend's release of "The Place Beyond the Pines", we decided to take a look at some of our favorite Motorcycle Films! "The Place Beyond the Pines", which is directed by Derek Cianfrance, re-teaming with Ryan Gosling ("Blue Valentine"), tells the story of a mysterious motorcycle racer traveling with a carnival, desperately trying to connect with a former lover who recently and secretly gave birth to the stunt rider's son. In an attempt to provide for his new family, he quits the carnival life and commits a series of bank robberies aided by his superior riding ability. The stakes rise as he's put on a collision course with an ambitious police officer looking to quickly move up the ranks in a police department riddled with corruption.

So, not much deeper than that this week: the lead character rides a motorcycle, so we'll look at some other films that have a noticeable motorcycle presence in them. We will note that how we defined the presence differs for every writer. Some tried to stick closer to films that really centered around the bike presence, while others focused more on certain scenes that stuck out from certain films - but all in all, everyone found kind of a mix of each.

Also, while the title of the category this week is Motorcycle Movies, we generally took it to mean any type of motorized vehicle on two wheels. So scooters, mopeds, motor bikes, supercross bikes, anything like that, it all fits into this category.

But without further ado, hit the jump to check out all of our picks!

Alex Schopp -
Overall I care very little about this category. I will say though that in my research, I found a few must-see titles. "I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle" and "Werewolves on Wheels" - sign me up!

     1. The World's Fastest Indian (2005)
This may be one of the worst film titles ever. I feel like because it was so odd, many audiences passed it over. It's actually a really solid watch though if you're looking for a good underdog story. Combine "The Rookie" and "Cool Runnings", throw in an old motorcycle, and you basically have this movie. This one isn't quite as polished as those two films, but you get the same sense of accomplishment from it.
     2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
At this point I've already abandoned films that are focused specifically on motorcycles. This film has to have one of the most iconic characters on a motorcycle ever though, right? Schwarzenegger on that Harley just seems like a perfect fit.
     3. Mad Max (1979)
Love those gritty dystopian future movies. This isn't my favorite film from this series, but I think it has the most motorcycle action. Plus Mel Gibson is always deserving of a watch, so this has that going for it.
     4. The Kids are All Right (2010)
One of my favorite movies to come out of 2010. I absolutely love films like this. If there was any more of this movie that had to do with motorcycles other than the fact that one character happened to ride one, this would definitely be higher on this list.
     5. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
This was my favorite Indy film when I was younger (you know that, it was most likely yours too). While it hasn't aged quite as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark, I still think this is a fun adventure movie. And I'll take Indy in a film anytime I can get him! Much like T2, this film features a fairly memorable motorcycle chase scene, this time involving Harrison Ford and Sean Connery speeding away from the Nazis.

Ben Foutch -
I really wanted to have at least one biker (exploitation) film on the list for the sake of the genre, but I just don't care for any of the ones I've seen.

     1. The World's Fastest Indian (2005)
I had to throw this at #1 for the pure love of the motorcycle. But that doesn't mean this doesn't deserve the top spot. I feel like this can be a source of inspiration for anyone pursuing their dreams, and it's uplifting to boot.
     2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
The motorcycle contributes to one of the most memorable action scenes in movie history, at least in my mind (take that for what you will). If you haven't seen this yet, it may be because you are new to movies, but either way, get with the program. Classic.
     3. Beyond the Law (1992)
Early 90's drama that revels in some cheesy prime-time television style and also clings to laughably out of place 80's cliches. It's supposedly based on a true story about an undercover cop investigating a gun/drug running biker gang, but I could never tell if they wanted me to take this as a serious drama. Yet, I enjoy the hell out of it. It's that unintentional awkwardness and lack of taste that really sets this over the top.
     4. Mad Max (1979)
"The Road Warrior" is my preferred entry into the series, but it didn't completely fit my criteria. Also, this has a low-budget grindhouse flair that I wanted to be represented in this list. It's pretty tame by today's standards, but the retro style surely maintains the cult appeal.
     5. Mask (1985)
Rocky might have had a hard time in life given his biker family status and facial affliction, but his intelligence and personality made a lasting impression on many, showing that appearance and social class are not accurate measures of a person's value. It leaves you on a down note, but is overall inspirational.

Derek Clem -

     1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
We got a T-800 on a Harley, John Connor on a dirt bike and a T-1000 on a nice Police bike. What more do you want?
     2. The Wild One (1953)
Brando is the epitome of cool in this movie.
     3. Akira (1988)
Dystopian motorcycles are the best motorcycles, especially when they exist in a cyberpunk anime world.
     4. Torque (2004)
This is one of those lovable bad movies. There's a lot of cheesy stuff going on here. All the gimmicky camera tricks, compositions, and visual effects create an interesting frenzy to the movie. It's very 'music video like' in its execution.
     5. Tron: Legacy (2010)
This movie earns its spot purely on visuals.

Nathan Hinds -
I haven't seen very many movies that are actually centered around motorcycles. It seems like it's a genre that was really at its height 30 years ago. Making this list has really reminded me of a long list of movies that I need to see.

     1. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
The rankings for this list don't matter much, but the reason this makes the #1 spot is because the scene involving Arnold on the bike is my favorite chase scene ever.
     2. Mad Max (1979)
This gets the #2 spot because it's my favorite film on the list with a big motorcycle influence. Man, Mel Gibson is awesome. Why isn't this guy still one of the biggest names in Hollywood. Oh yeah, because people suck.
     3. Easy Rider (1969)
There isn't a movie that represents the 60's better than this one, and it has an amazing soundtrack to go along with it. This is my grandparents' favorite movie. Take that to mean what you will.
     4. The Dark Knight (2008)
This features my favorite movie motorcycle.
     5. Supercross (2005)
This is a really standard movie, but I enjoyed it.

Tracy Allison -

     1. Easy Rider (1969)
This movie is one of my all-time favorites. I knew right away that I loved it. Movies set in the 60's/70's have always appealed to me and this one really seems to capture the disillusion and counterculture in America during this time. I love the actors in this movie, and there are some amazing shots of them on their bikes in the desert, late 60's music playing, no talking, just riding off into the sunset. The vibe is so cool. The soundtrack is perfect and this movie awakens in me the desire to live a transient life of this nature.
     2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
In this epic sequel, the beginning of the film again places the Terminator alone, in a new time, and naked. What’s a futuristic cybernetic organism to do? Obviously walk to the nearest dive bar, and come up with clothes, sunglasses, a gun, and a motorcycle, of course. Although not a film centered on bikes, who can forget the epic T-100 manned truck chasing the Terminator and John Connor aboard the bike down the oft filmed L.A. River?
     3. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
This film is based on real life Marxist revolutionary, Che Guevara. With a friend, he rode a motorcycle all over South America until it broke down. After observing peasant life on that trip, it inspired Che to spark social and political change. That’s a pretty epic journey spawned from a little cross country joyride with a friend. After this movie came out, there was a huge influx of people riding motorcycles across South America. If something like that doesn't prove how movies affect human life, then I don’t know what does.
     4. Purple Rain (1984)
I wanted to add this movie to the list for a few reasons. One, the music is amazing. I listened to it all the time as a kid and I still love it. Two, motorcycles are typically associated with very masculine men and Prince is not that. He puts on makeup within the first few minutes of the movie. I liked the idea of having him on this list with all the other more macho types listed. And three, his motorcycle is purple. Enough said. It’s amazing.
     5. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
Sean Connery and Harrison Ford make a great team on a motorcycle. Indiana Jones drives and his father (Sean Connery) is relegated to the sidecar in this Nazi chase scene. It screams Spielberg to me, from the explosion out of a wooden box to start the race to the flagpole jousting. This movie isn't about motorcycles, but in a movie full of epic machines and getaways, the motorcycle chase scene is a fun aspect here.

There we have it, folks! Overall, sixteen different films featured above, and five in multiple variety. We had one film that found its way onto all five lists this week, and that was "Terminator 2: Judgment Day". While the film doesn't completely revolve around motorcycles, all of the comments above make it quite clear why this one was as represented as it was. The film grabbed two of the five first-place votes and hit in the #2 spot on the other three lists. The iconic presence of the motorcycle scenes in this movie were enough to warrant high love from all members of the group.

Otherwise, one film, "Mad Max", hit on three lists, and three - "The World's Fastest Indian", "Easy Rider", and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" - rounded out the group, each appearing on two lists above. A pretty solid selection, each with varying amounts of motorcycles in them. Regardless though, if you're looking for a film with a notable motorcycle presence, these films are all great places to start.

That's it this week though. As always, we hope that each of the selections above helps to expand your knowledge and appreciation of some of the best films that this genre has to offer, and guides you to better and more enjoyable all-around viewing experiences.

Happy watching!