Thursday, August 20, 2015

TV on DVD Review: Extreme Treks - Sacred Mountains of China



Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Interesting and beautiful look at remote areas of China
Cons: Episodes blend together if you watch back to back
The Bottom Line:
Trekking some mountains
Exploring other cultures
Beautiful and fun




Extreme Treks through Some Beautiful and Dangerous Country

I don’t normally go for travel logs or documentaries, so I was hesitant when I was offered a copy of Extreme Treks: Sacred Mountains of China for review.  Yet something about it appealed to me, so I decided to give it a try and I really enjoyed it.

This was also my introduction to Ryan Pyle, a photographer, our host, and the adventurer who sets out to travel around four of the sacred mountains in China.  These are remote, mostly in the Tibet region, and the only way to do so it to hike them.  Oh, and did I mention the altitude?  This is not a simple day stroll but a multi-day adventure that could turn deadly if proper precautions aren’t taken.

The disc consists of four episodes, each dedicated to a different mountain.  The format is pretty much the same.  He arrives and spends a little time acclimating to the altitude and explaining to us a bit about how this mountain is considered sacred.  Then he sets out with his support crew, and we get breathtaking shots along the way as he encounters obstacles ranging from weather to exhaustion and hints of altitude sickness.

As I was watching, all I could think was “I’d never survive this.”  What he went through in his treks is awe inspiring.  But I’m glad he did because the shots are absolutely beautiful, and I doubt I’d ever learn about this region any other way.

Because these are roughly 45 minute made for TV episodes (and I don’t know where they initially aired), we get just an overview of what he saw and experienced over the multiple days he spent filming and hiking.  Honestly, at times, I felt like I could have watched more just to see the landscape.

At other times, however, I felt like things were a little repetitive, maybe because I watched them several nights in a row.  If I had spaced them out, I don’t think I would have felt this way.

While Ryan did travel with a support crew made up of locals, this is definitely his show.  Almost all the dialogue is him telling us about what has happened, either in voiceover or directly into the camera from the trail.

This Blu-Ray consists of four episodes of the show, so roughly 3 hours of material.  There are no bonus features.  However, you do get the shots in glorious HD, which helps you feel like you are right there.  The sound is in stereo, and it is great as well.

A quick note (that is also included on the disc packaging) that there are a couple of uses of unbleeped language on the shows.  He also strips down to take a dip in a creek at one point.  Keep that in mind if you are thinking of watching with your kids.

Ryan’s passion for China comes through on this disc, and I certainly learned about these mountains and the culture surrounding them while I was watching.  It was well worth taking these vicarious Extreme Treks.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of this Blu-Ray in exchange for my honest review.

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