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Movie Reviews : 'Winners Take All'

June 09, 1987|MICHAEL WILMINGTON.

So far, the movies haven't gotten around to hopscotch, tiddlywinks or shuffleboard in their mad pursuit of sports for inspirational rites-of-manhood action pictures. But give them time. In "Winners Take All" (citywide), we're plunged, hot and heavy, into the world of supercross motorcycle racing.

There's the small-town hero and his clownish buddies, his best friend who's gone commercial, the unscrupulous manager and the sluttish girlfriend switching sides. (It's kind of like "Spetters" with school spirit.)

As a twist, instead of a grizzled veteran, the trainer is a stunning blonde. There's Suicide Hill that no one's ever climbed, a big lug of a guy named Bear, championship battles, dirty tricks and the thrill of victory, the agony of bad dialogue . . . .

Cliches all. What's more important are the ritual demonstrations--motorcycle races that aren't very excitingly filmed. Also the ritual litany, the pearls of wisdom for a positivist age. Here are a few, culled at random: "You don't win at the end, you win at the start." Hmmm . . . have to think about that one a while. "Come on, put on your race face." Nice little rhyme there. "There are two kinds of people: the ones who are afraid of losing and the ones who are afraid of winning." Aw, come on, there must be more than that! "If you want to win, you have to suffer." You said it. In fact, this whole movie proves it.

"Winners Take All" (MPAA rated PG-13)--which has a twist climax, shiny bikes and two good acting jobs by Kathleen York and Deborah Richter--is way back there in the middle of the winner-movie pack. If you want to win, you've got to suffer.

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