Let’s cut to the chase … I love a good chase scene in a movie, but it’s usually cars, cars and more cars.
There are few movies that solely concentrate on a motorcycle chase which is strange since bikes can do a lot cars can’t such as jumps, wheelies, stoppies, etc. However, many of the great car chase scenes have included at least one motorcycle, usually baddies chasing the good guy!
Of course, The Great Escape (1963) is number one in our greatest motorcycle chase scenes, but what about the others? Well, there’s another war movie, several Bond films, Jackie Chan, and, of course, bike-loving Tom Cruise.
1 Much has been written about the incredible chase scene in The Great Escape, which features real riding, not CGI, on bikes that were not built for the sort of stunts they perform. Some of the more interesting facts about this great chase scene were that Steve McQueen did much of the his own stunt riding, he was on a British Triumph T6 not a German BMW, and Steve was also one of the Germans chasing himself! Of course, he didn’t do the famous jump over the barbed wire fence. That was performed by his friend and stuntman Bud Ekins.
2 Australia’s own Robbie Maddison is one of the stunt riders in the 2012 James Bond film, Skyfall, which features a race across Istanbul rooftops, through windows, up stairs and through busy streets.
3 The motorcycle chase scene in the World War II movie Escape to Athena (1979) has Elliot Gould’s stunt double riding a sidecar through narrow cobblestone streets. There are some great action shots, real riding up and down stairs and even some sidecar jumps! I also love the way the rider picks up the sidecar wheel over the top of a stationary camera.
4 Jackie Chan’s epic motorcycle chase scene on a 1989 Yamaha DT200R dirt bike in the movie Operation Condor (1991) features the usual Chan style with plenty of comedy and athleticism. There are also loads of trials tricks, wheelies, riding over the roofs of cars, jumps and he even saves a baby along the way.
5 Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) features Pierce Brosnan riding through Vietnam streets on – of all things – a BMW R 1200 C, their short-lived cruiser! Plenty of explosions, comedy and Bond even manages a bit of a cuddle with his female pillion riding backwards in his lap. It proved you can wheelie and jump a cruiser.
6 Sean Connery’s “non-Bond Bond film”, Never Say Never Again (1983) features Bond riding a wacky looking motorcycle which is just a trail bike with fairings and overdubbed engine noises. It’s worth it for the up-stairs wheelie and the “afterburner” jump. However, Bond needs an anti-fog visor!
7 The Bourne Legacy (2012) has a short, but wild two-up ride on a Honda trail bike. This features a unique take on the old staircase routine where he rides down the banister on the bash plate!
8 Arnold Schwarzenegger’s motorcycle chase in The Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) is famous because he’s riding a Fat Boy which makes an amazing 4m jump in the LA sewers. The bike was suspended by wires, but it still makes an incredible stunt. The bike is now in the Milwaukee Harley museum. Read my story here.
9 Mission Impossible 2 (2000) in Australia with Tom Cruise on a Triumph Speed Triple being chased by a baddie on a Triumph Daytona on the tar and dirt. This is notable for the “quick tyre change” to knobbies midway through the chase! I also like Tom’s Ducati Hypermotard ride in Knight and Day (2010).
10 The Matrix Reloaded (2003) features a beautiful Ducati 996 stolen off the back of a truck and ridden mainly the wrong way through freeway traffic with a pillion. A fair bit of CGI, but still lovely watching that Ducati in action.
11 I know we only said 10, but we had to include another Bond entry with Roger Moore. In For Your Eyes Only (1981), Bond is chased down a ski slope by baddies with machine guns on their trail bike handlebars. The best part is the ride down a luge run.
Over to you. What is your favourite cinematic motorcycle chase scene? Be sure to include a YouTube link so we can judge for ourselves.