By 1990, Hollywood had produced a bevy of iconic movies about motorcycles and their riders. However, motorcycle chase scenes were much less commonly featured in movies than car chases or shootouts. To honor the best movie motorcycle chases of the nineties, we’ve put together this exciting list. From iconic sequels to forgotten gems, this list is full of worthy contenders.
10. Goldeneye–Leap Of Faith (1995)
The opening scene of Goldeneye, Pierce Brosnan’s first outing as James Bond, is one of the all-time best Bond introductions. It effectively shows fans a new Bond for a new age, with slick, adrenaline-fueled action. The motorcycle chase during this sequence is only a sliver of the brilliance found in these opening moments, though it is truly the cherry on top.
After Bond sees his fellow agent 006 (Sean Bean) get killed, the surviving spy cleverly escapes an army of automatic rifles aimed at him. With a swarm of enemies on his tail, Bond spots a plane taking off on a nearby runway and chases after it as a means of escape. Bond has a brief tussle with an enemy in the plane and the two characters fall onto the runway, leaving the plane without a pilot.
However, Bond commandeers a nearby motorcycle and pursues the plane. Thinking that Bond won’t be able to catch up, the enemies stand and wait for him to either give up or drive off of the runway and plummet to his death. But, this is Bond we’re talking about here. So, of course, he dives off of the runway after the falling plane, climbs inside, and takes off as a fiery explosion decimates his pursuers and their base.
9. Police Story III: Super Cop–The Bike That Can’t Be Stopped (1992)
Some folks from the U.S. may know Jackie Chan exclusively from his films such as Rush Hour 1-3, The Tuxedo, or The Medallion. First off, the very thought of that makes me want to cry. But, we’re not here to talk about those. In fact, I’ll never be here to talk about those movies.
Before he became an A-list star in the U.S., Jackie Chan was legendary overseas. Films like the Police Story series, the Drunken Master series, the Armour of God series, and Who Am I? are simply a mere slice of Chan’s brilliant career.
During the climax of Police Story III: Super Cop (sometimes simply referred to as Super Cop), Jackie Chan has to battle it out with some enemies on top of a speeding train. Hot on his trail is Interpol Inspector Yang, played by Michelle Yeoh. She pulls off an amazing stunt in which she furiously chases after the train and uses a nearby stretch of land like a ramp, launching herself into the air and onto the train.
The sequence featuring the bike is arguably briefer than even Goldeneye‘s but it is an impressive moment. Watching Yeoh fly through the air and land on the train, narrowly missing her mark, only to fall off and catch herself between two train cars, is exactly the type of action that makes Chan’s movies so incredible, even nearly 30 years later.
8. Stone Cold–A Ride Of Ice & Fire (1991)
Stone Cold is the acting debut of former football star Brian Bosworth that you never heard of. However, don’t let that deter you because it features one of the decade’s coolest motorcycle chases. When undercover cop Joe Huff (Bosworth) is at risk of being exposed by one of the members of the gang he has infiltrated, Ice (William Forsythe), he hops on his bike and takes off after him.
What makes this chase so exciting is simply the Michael Bayhem of it all. Characters being riddled with bullets, cars exploding into fiery hunks of twisted metal, and of course, the final moments. Seeing Ice smash into that car earns such a visceral reaction not only because of the giant explosion it causes but because they frame the shot in a way that makes you believe that they drove a car right into William Forsythe. Suffice it to say, they most likely did not do that, but it sure as heck looks like they did. Movie magic at its finest.
7. Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man–Virginia Slim Hunts The Marlboro Man (1991)
After Harley Davidson (Mickey Rourke), the Marlboro Man (Don Johnson), and Jack Daniels (Big John Studd) rob an armored car only to find a new drug instead of money, they ignite a manhunt that involves Daniel Baldwin and a character named Virginia Slim (Chelsea Field). No, really, those are the character names.
But that’s not important now, what is important is how great this motorcycle chase is. In the scene above, we see Officer Virginia Slim chase Marlboro through the empty nighttime streets. What makes this chase more than just two people riding bikes down the street is the great camerawork. The small touches brought to the choreography and cinematography of the sequence make it thoroughly entertaining. There are even some impressive stunts featured here, such as the duo doing huge jumps off of a staircase and zooming through a shopping center.
6. Nowhere To Run–The Hussle From Brussels (1993)
Jean Claude Van Damme’s movie Nowhere To Run may not be his most iconic movie but it is still awesome. Any fan of action movie stunts should love this sequence in the film in which Van Damme’s character Sam is pursued by the police. Director Robert Harmon effectively showcases his eye for action choreography and stunt work.
For instance, my favorite moment during the chase is that bit where Van Damme dodges a tree branch, only for the cop on his tail to smack into it and get launched at the camera. It’s a thrilling moment executed so well, you’ll question how they pulled it off. Small moments like that make this whole sequence a treasure trove of goodness for action fans.
5. Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave–Fast and Furry-ous (1995)
Out of all the movie motorcycle chases in the nineties, I bet you didn’t expect to see this one on here. Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. Much how I gave props to The Adventures of Tintin‘s creative use of animation to creatively stage a motorcycle set piece, I want to give props to Wallace & Gromit: A Close Shave.
The Academy Award-Winning short film follows the titular duo as they wind up in the middle of a robotic dog’s sinister plot. Near the end of the film, Preston the robot dog kidnaps a herd of sheep and his master Wendolene with the plan of putting them in a mincing machine.
To thwart this plot, Wallace and Gromit chase after Preston’s truck with the help of their motorcycle and its sidecar. What follows is a chase that may not have the intensity or excitement of a Van Damme or Bond chase but it makes up for it in pure charm and whimsy. The fun choreography and use of physics throughout the chase combines the delightful comedy of Wallace & Gromit with the impressive action stunt work of Buster Keaton.
4. Terminator 2: Judgement Day–Get Connor (1991)
When seeking out the best movie motorcycle chases, you’ll come across this scene on nearly every list. After the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) thwarts an assassination attempt on young John Connor (Edward Furlong) by the T-1000 (Robert Patrick), Connor takes off on a motorcycle. But, both bots are hot on his trail.
If you’ve seen Terminator 2: Judgement Day, then you know the film is an incredible feat in nearly every single area. The film’s top-notch editing and camerawork are showcased in this particular scene exceedingly well, made apparent by even minute things such as the multiple, impressive match cuts from Schwarzenegger to Furlong throughout the chase.
It’s also one of the great action scenes that tells you a lot about the character and story in the midst of the explosive action. The way the Terminators damage their vehicles due to their sloppy driving (particularly the T-1000 slamming into every wall) shows just how dedicated the two are to their respective goals. They’ll drive after their targets until the engines stop, and even then the T-1000 will just do his best Tom Cruise run after Connor if he has to.
3. Armour of God 2: Operation Condor–Catch That Chan (1991)
This is the second Jackie Chan film on this list but it’s the first one to actually feature Jackie behind the wheel or, more accurately, behind the handlebars. After Jackie’s character Jackie (no, that’s not a typo) inquires about an ancient key, he takes out two goons who are following him. That’s when he hops on his motorcycle and is pursued by multiple enemy cars.
What ensues is an orchestra of white knuckle-inducing stunts that would make Tom Cruise tremble. Mixing Jackie’s signature comedy with one “how is he going to make it out of this one?” scenario after another over the course of several minutes results in one of the legendary actor’s career highlights. I’d also argue that, in the video above, the shot of the cars behind Jackie at the 4:20 mark is maybe one of the single coolest shots in any motorcycle chase in film history.
Plus, can we just take a moment to admire that final moment with Jackie leaping from his bike to the net? I mean, come on, could there be any more reasons to geek out over this scene?
2. Hard Target–The Most Dangerous Mane (1993)
The muscle from Brussels returns for second place on this list. In John Woo’s 1993 action film Hard Target, his first American film, the director delivered an incredibly over-the-top motorcycle chase long before he would do it again in 2000’s Mission: Impossible II.
After being ambushed by his nefarious assailants, Chance (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and Natasha (Yancy Butler) hop on a motorcycle and take off down the empty city streets. The action choreography is pure gold if you’re a fan of shlocky action. This movie is worth watching just to see Van Damme hop onto those handlebars and fire a submachine gun. Plus, this scene certainly gets some props for featuring some of the coolest explosions of this entire list.
1. Tomorrow Never Dies–Spy Hunter (1997)
That’s right, Brosnan’s Bond made the list again with a much more extensive chase sequence. Tomorrow Never Dies recently appeared on our top 10 movie car chases of the nineties thanks to its stellar BMW sequence.
The film also features a motorcycle chase that is arguably bigger and louder than even the extensive BMW set piece. The scene begins with Bond and Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) having to escape from a swarm of enemies while the duo is handcuffed to each other. They commandeer a nearby motorcycle and make haste through the busy streets. While Bond and Lin attempt to keep the bike balanced with impressive gymnastic work, they are simultaneously taking out their enemies in clever, fun ways.
The chase becomes even more exciting when an enemy helicopter is thrown into the mix. Not only do we get to see Bond jump his motorcycle over the helicopter, but we also get to see him defeat it in one of the most impressive moves the super spy has ever pulled. With both parties still on the bike, Bond manages to slide underneath the helicopter’s incoming blades, then he and Lin attach a nearby wire to the helicopter, causing it to crash into a building in a glorious plastic dummy-filled explosion.
If that incredible action is not worthy of the top spot on this best movie motorcycle chases of the nineties list then I don’t know what is.
As always, be sure to share and/or comment on this post and let me know which movie motorcycle chases you think I should’ve included or should’ve placed higher on the list. With so many exciting action scenes to choose from, deciding the top ten movie motorcycle chases of the nineties is no easy feat. However, with so many differing tastes in film out there, I’d love to hear which of the nineties’ best action scenes resonate with you the most.
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