If you are a fan of racing, this film is a must see. Docurama recently released The Doctor, the Tornado and the Kentucky Kid on DVD.
In 2005, MotoGP came back to America for the first time in over ten years. Its destination was Laguna Seca the iconic track near Pebble Beach California. The documentary follows three riders, “The Doctor” – Valentino Rossi, “The Kentucky Kid” – Nicky Hayden and “The Texas Tornado” – Colin Edwards, through the lead up to the race, the practice sessions, qualifying and every lap of the race. Hayden and Edwards have won at Laguna Seca before they moved up to MotoGP; most of the riders including Rossi have only seen Laguna Seca in video games.
Laguna Seca is unlike any other race on the MotoGP circuit. It has elevation changes, blind corners and the infamous Corkscrew. The Corkscrew is a ninety degree turn at the top of a hill that drops off like a roller coaster. The drop off is so severe that you can’t see the asphalt as you make the turn. Most of the other MotoGP races are on newer tracks which were usually designed to accommodate modern F1 cars. Laguna Seca was built in 1958 for sports cars and follows the terrain of the rolling California hills.
Rossi at the time of this race had won forty eight MotoGP races, had won four MotoGP championships, was on his way to a fifth and is widely considered the greatest rider ever. Rossi is one of the top ten paid athletes in the world and at the time of the race only twenty six years old. Edwards and Hayden while champions in other circuits had had mixed results in MotoGP and need to win. They were banking on their previous experience to give them the edge over the Italian superstar.
Intercut through the buildup to the race are interviews with Hayden and Edwards and their family. The interviews reveal their families total devotion to motor sports. There is not as much information given on Rossi, but we do learn that he too comes from a racing family.
Every moment the bikes are on the track is filled with commentary from the riders or the narrator Ewan McGregor. Mark Neale, the director of this documentary, does a masterful job of using narration and commentary to describe the on track action. It is nearly incomprehensible what these men do with these machines. These bikes weigh less than three hundred and fifty pounds and produce two hundred and fifty horsepower. It’s all the riders can do to keep the front wheel on the ground. A quote from Edwards sums up the ability of these riders.
“You just keep the front wheel about half a centimeter in the air all the way up the hill at one hundred and fifty miles an hour and set it down just over the rise. It’s really just a timing issue.”
The on bike cameras capture some amazing footage, through the turns these guys are dragging their knees and the handlebars are millimeters from the tarmac. It is simply amazing how little of the tires on these bikes is actually touching the track through the turns, and how often the front wheel is off the ground during the straights. If this was fiction the actual race would probably have been closer, but it was still an exciting race. The riders offering commentary on every little mistake made it a unique experience.
I’ve always been a fan of just about any form of racing on two or four wheels. This is the greatest job of covering a race I have ever seen. This documentary is gearhead crack, but what if you’re not a gearhead? A really good documentary will mesmerize you whether you care anything about the subject matter or not before you sit down. I’m not sure that if you’re not fascinated by speed whether this one will draw you in. If you are, you are in for a treat.
The video was presented in widescreen format. The video quality varied somewhat because of the variety of the source material. The footage came from everything, handheld video cameras, high speed film cameras and on bike cameras.
For the most part, the video is great and the color gorgeous.
The audio is 5.1 Surround Sound and every rev of the motors on those bikes sound really good. There are English, Spanish and French subtitles.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The DVDs come is your average DVD case. The artwork is striking and uses an interesting shade of yellow.
As for the bonus features, a Docurama catalog is enclosed. There are additional scenes included and on the second disk is something really cool. It’s the race, but you can use the angle feature to switch between different cameras. I think this is the first time I actually used the angle button on my remote.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Movie 8/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 8/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 7/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10