Brandon Semenuk's Rad Company - A Review
The New World Disorder series was one of only a few truly iconic series of mountain bike movies, and it introduced a whole generation of new riders to the sport of freeriding. Over the span of 10 releases, each NWD would raise the bar of what was possible on a mountain bike, to a sound track that was always resolutely on the rock side of the house. The original all-killer no filler edits, you could always count on a NWD title to get your blood pumping and your legs twitching to ride.
Throwing it back to those good old days with regards to the amount of incredible riding on display, Rad Company picks up where NWD left off. Brandon Semenuk joins forces with a hand-picked crew of partners in crime and proceeds to shred up select spots around the world. The storyline is non-existent and the timeline serving only to punctuate the passing scenes and provide a superficial excuse to get down to the business at hand.
In a departure from the distinctly metal-flavored soundtrack of the NWD series, DJ Miss Erica Dee digs deep in her collection of vintage vinyl and takes us on a journey of musical rediscovery. The funk is strong and the groove never breaks a beat; each segment a soundscape surprise perfectly suited to the on-screen antics. Spin up the Technics and let us start our trip…
All-out aerial assault sets the tone right from the get go – we’re clearly not going to be wasting any time with filler shots and the trick-o-meter stays quiet for the time being, as the focus is on in-your-face steeze during sub-orbital manned flight. Graham Agassiz and Matty Miles join Brandon for this opening session of ample airs on a rollercoaster of a Kamloops trail. Unbelievable boost and yes, style for Miles too.
The contrast between segments in Rad Company is high, and it goes beyond just a location or the different riders. Each a story in its own right, the segments take on the character of the main protagonists and provide both Semenuk and the production crew with a fresh challenge for each passing tune. Whether it’s the perfect application of the term “shredding” as Stevie Smith lays waste to a little fresh BC loam, or a firepit dirt jump session with R-Dog and Logan Peat, the execution never falters and the cinematographic fireworks fit perfectly to the shred on hand.
Kamloops, BC, the Coast, the locations are familiar but rest assured, A-line and Dirt Merchant shine with their absence, and to be honest, it was really time to move on. What replaces the infamous bike park is a series of new spots that push this sport to the very edge of reason. As we journey south, McCaul, Zink, Doerfling and Semenuk eat their fill of Utah dirt, before stomping some of the most ridiculous desert moves ever witnessed by the incredulous vultures circling high above. How could it NOT be dinner time already?
Zink puts down his usual display of contempt for the laws of physics, including The Drop That He Shouldn’t Have Landed. Doerfling simply doesn’t bother with building lines anymore, he hits the mountain like a freeskier and sends whatever comes his way, including a ridiculous gap to a completely natural landing that takes a deft touch and distinctly oversized cojones to even contemplate. And through it all, Semenuk shines…
Yes there is dirt jumping in Rad Company – but this is dirt jumping on steroids, every hit an abnormally large copy of your neighborhood line of doubles. For anybody thinking of giving the Retallack lines a go, you’ll either earn frequent flyer status on the double or you’ll be getting the orthopedic wing at the local hospital named after you. When it comes to racking up the air miles at the DJs, Genon, Granieri and Semenuk only fly first class and they get triple points on each hit, with combos taken straight to dirt from the video game consoles.
Journeying south of the equator, Semenuk hooks up with freeracer, Brendan Fairclough, to tackle a high-speed, big hit Fijian freeride track built especially for the occasion. The dynamic duo carve down this terrifying toboggan trail with consummate ease. It’s all power manuals, drifts, and huge whips for these two as the surf beckons below. No man is an island but Brendog and Semenuk are almost alone in the world when it comes to this level of speed, style and control.
Every movie has a few standout moments, but in such rad company, it’s almost impossible to pin them down. Undeniably, the star is Semenuk and he honors his billing by being able to diversely rip with the sickest riders of any discipline without ever looking out of place. He quietly dominates the segments with such an incredible display of skill that it almost numbs the mind. The massive moves stomped by all the other guys are icing on the cake, but on more than one occasion, Semenuk ends up walking away with the cherry. Never more so than in The Junkyard...
With such incredible talent on the cast, the filmmakers show little hesitation in deploying the heavy artillery in order to capture every ounce of radness being eked from each scene. Dynamic camera work, fast pans, dramatic zooms, slomo, all the action recorded for posterity on today’s finest weapons of mass distraction. The editing is as smooth as the soundtrack, and even the over-produced segments like Nico Vink mobbing in a monsoon are pulled off effortlessly. The trail builders deserve a shout-out here too, painting an incredible canvas of fresh dirt for each segment that allowed riders and filmers an unrestricted opportunity to express the full extent of their talents.
You don’t make an omelet without landing on your eggs a few times. As any NWD fan will remember, the crash section is a stark reminder that although these guys will make it look easy when it’s all clicking, there’s a dirt tax that must be paid when you fail to keep the rubber side down. Mid-air ejects without a parachute seem like a non-option when you’re skirting the stratosphere, but on evidence, it was probably best not to try and ride some of these wrecks out. However, the prize for the hard-ass move of Rad Company must go to one of the Fijian track builders as he takes a couple of almighty yardsales while trying to ride Brendog’s bike, down Brendog’s line, on Brendog’s flat pedals….barefoot. #OUCH. Semenuk’s ragdoll in almost the same spot gets a special jury award and an A+ for effort though.
Rad Company is almost 50-minutes long, but it flies by in a heartbeat. As any DJ worth their salt will know, there’s always an encore, and Miss Erica Dee spins up one final tune as Semenuk takes you on a tour of his property and some very gnarly line options that we’ll leave to your imagination for the time being…roll credits!