[box cover]

Wind (1992)

If the measure of a good sports movie is that it sells you on the sport itself, 1992's Wind is a tough competitor — Carroll Ballard's saga of America's Cup yacht racing may not have earned the actors any Oscar hardware, but it's a generally entertaining movie bolstered by three exciting sequences that capture the sights and sounds of elite sailing competitions. After seeing it, you might be itching to get out on the water yourself. Matthew Modine stars as Will Parker, one of America's most talented young sailors and a member of the America's Cup team that competes regularly with Australia. Will is obsessed with sailing — so much, in fact, that he never even finished college despite his deeply analytical mind. It's a topic that sometimes sets him at odds with his girlfriend Kate Bass (Jennifer Grey), another competitive sailor who also is a pilot and holds an M.S. in aeronautical engineering. However, during America's Cup training, Will is assigned to skipper the number-two boat to race against America's Radiance, and he appoints Kate his chief tactician. Surprisingly, they pull out a win against seasoned captain Morgan Weld (Cliff Robertson), but Will earns a promotion while Kate is dumped from the crew. It's only after the team later loses the Cup to Australia that Will sets off to find Kate, now in Nevada with fellow aeronautical researcher Joe Heiserwith (Stellan Skarsgård), and before long the trio form a plan to build a new vessel and win back the prize. Ballard, a talented director who has only delivered a handful of films over the past few decades (including The Black Stallion and Never Cry Wolf), is in top form with Wind — it's astonishing to think about the effort that must have gone into capturing the sailing sequences, with cameras both on deck and in nearby water (and not a drop to be found on the lens at any time). It's also admirable that the script doesn't try to dumb-down the practical details of sailing — those with nautical experience will appreciate the realistic dialogue, while others can flick on the English subtitles to learn about tacking, jibing, spinnakers, lay-lines, and wind-shadows. Regrettably, where Wind is a lavish experience on the water, it tends to luff about on land — the characters have no more depth than is required by the formulaic script (boy loses girl and trophy, boy hopes to win back same), which means you'll enjoy spending time with the characters only as much as you like Matthew Modine, Jennifer Grey, and Stellan Skarsgård (who are all more than adequate for the job, by the way). The general bickering that goes on in Nevada is amusing enough — perhaps the real problem is that none of the stars are nearly as sexy as the sailboats, airplanes, and gliders that constantly fill the screen. Columbia TriStar's DVD release of Wind features a good transfer from a pleasant source-print with audio in Dolby 2.0 Surround. Trailers, keep-case.

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