Wednesday, October 7, 2015

TV Show Review: Tough Rides: China

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Interesting look at the diversity and beauty of China.
Cons: Episodes could be longer.
The Bottom Line:
Bike around China
Shows beauty and adventure
Just scratches surface

Two Brothers, Two Bikes, One Extraordinary Trip

Someday, I am going to go on a road trip.  In fact, my secret desire is to get in my car and drive the 10 from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.  It’s things like money and time that hold me back from actually doing it.  That’s one reason why I am jealous of brothers Ryan and Colin Pyle, who did take a major road trip.  They documented it for all of us to enjoy in Tough Rides: China.

Ryan Pyle is a photographer and adventurer who has spent more than a decade living and working in China.  After his brother Colin sells his successful business in their native Canada, they decide to travel around the border of China on motorcycles.  This is a way for them to reconnect and for Ryan to introduce Colin to the country he loves.

This disc chronicles their 65 day journey.  Over the course of six half hour episodes, we get to join them as they experience beautiful scenery, rain, snow, a wide range of Chinese culture, highs and lows of elevation and emotion, accidents, and motorcycle problems that might end their trip.

My major complaint with this show is that the episodes are too short.  You figure that each half hour episode is covering just over 10 days.  That’s a lot of ground to cover, figuratively and literally, so we really are just getting the highlights.  This is driven home in the final episode when the brothers are talking about what the trip has meant to them.  We don’t really get to see any of that growth, unfortunately.  I think if each episode were an hour, it would have been about right.

That’s not to say this vicarious trip isn’t well worth taking.  The route takes them to many sections of China I will probably never get to see (even if I do get over there some day), and it really drives home just how diverse the country is.  It makes sense when you think about how large the country is, but it’s not something I tend to think about.  The extended time we spend in some of Ryan’s favorite areas in episodes three and four are also very interesting and really show us what life in these regions of China is like.

The Blu-ray disc has all six episodes on it, and presents them in glorious high definition wide screen and full surround sound.  There is a play all option, and that option cuts out the introduction that is the same in every episode.  There are no extras on the disc, and this was previous released on DVD as The Middle Kingdom Ride.  There is no new material here, so no need to upgrade if you already own a copy unless you want it in high-def.  As the packaging warns, there are occasional four letter words, so be aware of that before showing it to your kids.

However, if you haven’t seen Tough Rides: China, you should definitely consider it.  While I’m sure there is so much more they could have shown us, what we do see is entertaining and educational.

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

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