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Review: Where The Trail Ends

11th Oct 2012

I don’t usually write reviews about adventure films. I know too many filmmakers through organising ShAFF, and worry that I can’t be as impartial as I would like to be. I’m making an exception for a film I watched last night. It’s a Red Bull Media House production called Where The Trail Ends and it’s about mountain biking. Mountain Biking and Skiing seem to be the biggest of the adventure sports genres. The kit required to do them is amongst the most expensive, and as a result their respective industries are pretty big in comparison say. With rock climbing or caving. And with big industries, come big films. Where The Trail Ends is amazing. It’s filmed and produced by Freeride Entertainment who’ve been responsible for some big ski and bike films in the past, but this one, for me, is the best yet. It’s 81 minutes long. The basic premise is of exploring the planet for new mountain bike playgrounds to rival the stomping grounds of Utah’s dessert mountains. The narration that joins the different segments together, as a band of pro riders travel the world, is slick enough to make this work well. The first segment, in the Chinese Gobi Dessert blew me away. Rather than the usual fast and choppy edits associated with bike-porn, this segment especially takes a step back and films the riders making full descents of golden mountains in a matter of seconds in the same manner that back country skiers do in Alaskan ski films. In fact the film is even closer to a ski-flick in that the close-ups show the riders literally surfing their machines through the dirt and sand. My wife watched with me and commented that she’d never seen a rider so at one with their bike before. There’s plenty of nice travel and cultural shots padding out the main ride sequences. There are some mind-numbing crashes and bail-outs followed by some heroic dust-off-and-get-back-to-it moments. The quality of the cameras is evident in some of the most spectacular slow motion footage I’ve see yet, but as with all the other facets of the film, it is never over-done. 81 minutes in and I was still eager for more, that’s the hallmark of a good adventure film.

The film is being screened on Sunday 21st Oct after an interview with current downhill world champion Danny Hart at the Buxton Adventure Festival.

Here's a gallery of still images from the film: