Extreme Sport Excuse Plot
aka: Xtreme Sport Xcuse Plot
So you want to make a film based on an extreme sport that your target demographic is really into these days, to cash in on the trend. But you can't really focus on it without a plot, unless you want to make a documentary about it. And how could you justify featuring big name, A-list actors in a documentary? So maybe, drug lords are using the local illegal street racing competition as a recruiting ground for wheelmen, and our hero is an undercover cop who must infiltrate them. Perhaps the protagonist's father was killed in the ring of an Mixed Martial Arts competition, and he must seek vengeance by joining the competition and defeating the killer. Or alien invaders use some sort of suppression field to disable all electronic devices, so the only way La Résistance can communicate in the city's battlegrounds is with elite practitioners of ''Le Parkour' as messengers. Whichever route you choose, its clear from the beginning that the whole point is to feature Extreme Troping for 100 minutes and grab ahold of the people you think are into it. Occasionally the plot will be strong enough to make for an entertaining work on its own, but this is far from a requirement. Sub-Trope of Excuse Plot.
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Anime and Manga
- One episode of Pokémon has the Pokéathlon, which was probably put in there to promote the HeartGold and SoulSilver version that the player can compete in.
- Point Break: Excuse is the surfers are robbing banks to fund their activity and an FBI agent goes undercover to infiltrate the group. Although not the first, it is probably the most imitated example regarding films in this genre.
- The Fast and the Furious:
- First movie: Excuse is the street racers are hijacking shipment trucks to fund their activity and a cop goes undercover to infiltrate the group.
- Second movie: Excuse is same undercover cop and an ex-convict become street racers in order to get hired as drivers for a drug lord so they can infiltrate his operation.
- Third movie: Excuse is a street racing teenager sent to his US Navy dad stationed in Japan wrecks a yakuza drifter's car and he must work as his errand boy until he pays his car.
- Fourth movie: Same as the second (different drug lord) and the added twist that Don is also going undercover on his own initiative to get revenge on the man who killed his girlfriend.
- Drop Zone: Excuse is some people want to break into the DEA office to find out all their undercover agents. It turns out Washington DC is a free drop zone for skydivers on one day (hard to say if this was ever true - certainly not after 9/11), so they use that to sneak into the building.
- Surf Ninjas: How is surfing supposed to help you stop evil? When you use it to invade the island where the stronghold of a despotic dictator is located.
- Remember, bend your knees and use your arms!
- The Skydivers by Coleman Francis, which managed to suck out any sort of joy or excitement one might find in the activity. Was featured in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- Yamakasi - The Movie, starring Yamakasi, the parkour group. A small boy gets hurt trying to imitate them and needs very expensive surgery which his family is too poor to afford. So the Yamakasi decide to apologize to the family by robbing some very rich people and paying for the surgery.
- Although that is at least still some sort of plot, in the sequel Les Fils Du Vent the group literally just runs (or parkours) into criminals.
- On a related note, Banlieue 13 is another plotless parkours movie. The first 1/3 of the movie is entirely comprised of an (awesome) introduction scene for each of the two main characters, and even after that it never becomes quite clear why the neighbourhood must be saved by the power of parkour all the time. (In part 2 they even call a whole army of guns, knifes, explosives etc experts in only to have them barehandedly parkour everyone to death.)
- xXx: the Western governments apparently need an extreme sports athlete with anarchist leanings to infiltrate the like-minded Anarchy 99 terrorist group, as their clean-cut James Bond types have already been exposed and killed for their inability to mesh seamlessly within the group. The entire plot is a contrivance to set up the parachute-snowboard-snowmobile-grenade scene.
- In the Jackie Chan film New Police Story, the baddies are extreme sports enthusiasts and an action set piece takes place at a X-Games meeting.
- Blue Crush may have a plot, but there are so many surf scenes, shots of Hawaii, and gratuitous beach scenes that it is completely obfuscated.
- Extreme Days has the four main characters surf, drive, ride, and board their way across the country, in the name of freedom the summer before beginning their college careers.
- Banlieue 13 is designed to showcase the parkour skills of its protagonists, one of whom is actually the founder of the sport.
- Extreme Ops was an example that came out just as Joe Public was getting really good and sick of the "X-Treme" craze of the early 00's. It bombed both critically and financially as a result.
Live Action TV
- Power Rangers Ninja Storm had some of this vibe, as all the Rangers save Cam were extreme athletes in their off hours: Shane's a skateboarder, Tori's a surfer, and the others are motocross bikers. These hobbies rarely if ever crossed into their fights with the evil space ninjas, though.
- Skateboarding has been outlawed in .Skate 2, and the plot goes from there.
- Tony Hawk's Underground had a fairly decent plot involving getting sponsored by a major skateboarding company, and proving yourself as a star, before events made you realize that it was never about the money, and you end the game learning to do it for fun, rather than for money. The sequel then just had you skating around the world, causing destruction, as you're part of a team of pros competing in a "World Destruction Tour"
- American Wasteland's plot concerns the revival of a run down skate park. To do this, you smash up and steal various items from within LA, and keep your distance from the law.
- Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. The girls are tricked into going to an island for a fake tournament (even though two of them should know for a fact that there isn't one). One of them even falls for it twice. Despite some of them being bitter or even deadly rivals (kind of the reason they batter each other in Dead or Alive), they all put this aside, play volleyball and buy each other swimsuits.
- Mirror's Edge. In a dystopian future, the government monitors all communication, so La Résistance can only relay messages using Parkour-trained agents who can jump rooftops and slide on rails.
- An episode of Kim Possible did it in a cross-promotion with the X Games, which are run by ESPN, which is owned by Disney.
- Action Man has one of the more insane (and awesome) of these, involving Cold War Super Soldier experiments, radical Trans-Humanism and Bullet Time powered by super-advanced math.
- The similarly-themed (although rather different past the premise) Max Steel starts as this, but drops it for a season and a half when Josh McGrath, for whom 'Max Steel' is an alias, quits sports because he can't turn off his powers and doesn't enjoy competition with the unfair advantage. He later learns to overcome this and the trope shows up played straight in a couple of episodes, but he's completely switched careers. In the season three Retool, Josh is no longer a secret agent and goes back to competing, so it shows up a few more times.
- Rocket Power was pretty much filled to the brim with them, including one episode that featured Tony Hawk.
- In An Extremely Goofy Movie, for some reason Max and his friends are all suddenly obsessed with winning the X-Games tournament (see the Kim Possible example above), and the central plot of the film is them competing in every sport involved.
- The Spongebob Squarepants episode "Extreme Spots" centers around this with SpongeBob and Patrick meeting a group of daredevils, one of whom played by Johnny Knoxville.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games revolves around the students of Canterlot High facing the students of Crystal Prep in a series of events that include archery, motocross, and roller derby.
- The historical basis for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race — isolated town's children imperiled by diphtheria, weather conditions prevent shipment of antitoxin by sea or air, heroic teams of mushers and animals race the clock to deliver the lifesaving medicine — used the Xtreme Endurance Sport Xcuse Plot for social change. It really happened in 1925, with the Great Race of Mercy to Nome, Alaska, but the organizers also made sure to keep the press informed, knowing that this life-and-death race would call attention to the lack of reliable transportation to western Alaska.