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4.4 out of 5 stars
The Middle Kingdom Ride
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I thoroughly enjoyed this 2 Disc DVD set. When I was asked to review this DVD of the amazing journey Colin and Ryan embarked on together, I was rather excited to see a little of China, having never been. Also, although I’ve loved going on the back of big bikes occasionally, I’ve never been a biker ☺ So, it was with slight amusement and wondering how it would go for me that I sat down to watch the first DVD of the set. It was a cold rainy morning when I curled up in front of the fire to watch and I didn’t know these two guys at all (never heard of them!) yet, within a few minutes it starting I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Immensely actually! The two guys, brothers Colin and Ryan are so likeable with an easy charm and they both have a warm and engaging speaking manner. The way its been filmed is as though they are talking to you! rather than a wider audience which makes it more personal and enjoyable for the viewer I think.

Their journey is fascinating. I mean, how they come to do it is quite bizarre before they even set off. It takes a whole 6 months of careful planning and organisation and that would put a lot of people off. I never realised so much would need to be thought out or arranged before embarking on such a challenge. But one thing you realise about these two guys pretty quickly is that they are achievers, they don’t give up, they meet challenges and targets head on and nothing and I mean nothing fazes them. I ended up admiring them both as well as liking them by the time I had finished watching. I also must admit to being slightly envious too! However, the chances of me ever visiting China or being able to do something like these guys did are slim to none ☺ but, and this is the weird thing - I feel like I have been to China as they took me, the viewer with them. They didn’t lose my interest or my admiration throughout it all. They kept me glued to the very end. I saw parts of China most of us never get to see, even on TV and I experienced alongside them the rush of adrenalin, the fear, the exhaustion and the whole range of emotions they both went through on their epic journey.

Along the way they endure both horrendous heat and freezing temperatures. They travel through densely populated cities, sparse deserts and small villages and towns that seem to be from another world. They encounter some characters along the way and I’ve never in my life before seen a huge BMW bike’s petrol tank being filled in such a way before LOL - they were so patient about that. There are some strange rules in China ☺

They ride 11 thousand miles (can you imagine?) over a 2 month period and they fulfil a dream. Go them! I take my hat off to them, it took guts. Ryan prior to this epic journey already lived in China with his wife and kids and had done for 10 years. Colin however, used to run a successful business in Toronto, Canada prior to the recession. I guess for that reason alone I admire Colin the most because he travelled so far to do this, sold his house, left his wife back home in Canada and had never really ridden a bike very much prior to this journey. What an adventure it was and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing it with them.

I cannot imagine anyone not enjoying this, its great escapism at this cold and dark time of the year and its also very educational as you learn lots of China that you maybe didn’t know and you get to see so many fascinating things.

A great journey, a great watch.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED !!!!!!

This one is staying in my DVD collection and will be watched again ☺

Thanks Ryan and Colin for sharing your amazing journey with me.

NOTE: I was contacted directly and was sent this product for free. I was asked to use it fully and to write an honest, unbiased review. My being given a free item in no way influenced my review of this product.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 November 2014
(This product was sent to me by the Manufacturer / Supplier for an honest and unbiased review).

This DVD is a documentary about the epic journey of 2 Canadian brothers attempting to achieve a world record breaking journey by motorcycle around the perimeters of China; 16,240km (10,091.05 miles) in 65 days. The DVD is 156 mins long and contains 6 long episodes split between 2 discs and there are no special features included.

The footage has been captured via live camera crew filming, helmet-cams, private filming and interviews. In the DVD you see a mixture of the brothers travelling on different terrains whilst experiencing non stop events / challenges that are out of their control such as a number of accidents and breakdowns whilst also having to deal with sleep deprivation, 30K traffic jams, Chinese laws, unfair treatment of bikers, severe weather, freezing cold temperatures, blinding road dust clouds, landslides and flooding.

What I liked about the DVD was that it wasn't lacking in content as you learn a certain amount about Chinese culture, religion, beliefs, practices, manufacturing, laws, customs, animal husbandry and diets. The landscapes of China have been well captured in a wide range of angles as it shows major cities, deserts, jungles, mountains and the Great Wall of China to name but a few. Each day their location and distance status has been impressively and accurately linked to a computer generated map and this allows you to keep track of their location whilst giving it structure and keeping it interesting.

I liked the way that all the events had been captured by different filming methods and it was admirable how they showed honesty and transparency in certain areas whereby some individuals would have decided not to show. An example of this being that it showed them staying in hotels on several nights and cutting corners travelling by different forms of transport whilst their bikes were being repaired.

I found the second disc to be better and more enjoyable than the first as it showed less of the bike footage and more of them interacting with the natives due to them having more recurring breakdown problems. During that time you saw them interacting more with each other and the locals and you learnt more about China.

What I did not like as much about the DVD was that the footage was shown far too quickly at times, especially in the first disc with poor editing at times as it moved from each short scene to another quicker than you could absorb and process the information. Rather than trying to condense as much information as possible into the DVD, which would only be natural I believe that there should have been more focus on quality rather than quantity with more of an emphasis on showing the brothers interacting with each other, the locals and more interesting facts on China. For example there are 2 scenes whereby they have an opportunity to join in with other individuals on some traditional bathing in the river at freezing cold temperatures and to take a relaxing bath in an area that personal hygiene was clearly not a priority. These opportunities were quickly avoided and I felt that it would have made better viewing if they had been more receptive to these type of opportunities.

Another area that I felt that spoilt the enjoyment of the DVD to some degree was that there was a lot of negativity coming from the brothers which was evident in both tone of voice and body language. Although it's understandable that having to endure a constant bombardment of never ending events / problems would test even the most patient of individuals, it was hard not to be dragged down by the mood. It was an adventure of a life time yet it came across at times that they had been forced into doing it.

Verdict: 7/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 18 November 2014
Note: The authors agent sent me a review sample for evaluation, the opinion of the production is my own personal view

I'm personally not into the biking scene though I do have a few friends who are dedicated BMW bikers who travel around Europe and various locations (for extended periods but not to this level of endurance) so I have some grasp on the machines having seem them up close.

This appealed for a few reasons firstly the location being China an area which I've no experience of it is remarkably diverse in it's environment and this is conveyed very well during the video we have a huge variety of weather conditions from flooding to sub zero temperatures. The other being the cultural side of China during their travels the Pyle Bros visit a number of very unusual locations and we get to see first hand just how some people live in this country from dense urban populations with huge high rise buildings being built to barren and near deserted outback areas where small communities live.

Onto the production itself we follow Colin and Ryan as the go around China a monstrous 18,000 KM journey on their BMW bikes (which I'm informed by my biker friends are BMW F800GS models), with any road trip like this we get some mechanical problems as well as weather issues. It turns out Ryan has been living in China for some time, but he's joined by Colin for this journey and a film crew.

Each DVD is broken into 3 parts around 26 minutes for each segment making the total run time just over 2.5 hours quite a decent length and quite a lot of variety too. If I had one complaint it's that for every segment (6 in total) we get a TV series style re-hash of the introduction this cuts into each part a few minutes. I don't mind the "what happened last small parts" but really it's only needed on the start of disc 2 it can get a bit annoying to see the same few minutes of footage for every part. I understand that this was aired as a TV series but for the DVD production this should have been edited out (you're quite likely to watch more than one segment at a time)

Production wise footage and sound is of the expected quality good details and reproduction, you get some helmet cam views too which can be useful to see the events from a riders perspective. Content I found it very enjoyable watching the brothers on their trip nothing felt staged just the story as it unfolded good and bad events take place as you would expect on a journey this length. What hit me most was the vast scenery of some areas which was quite different to what I expected there is some very impressive footage throughout it makes a good watch even if you don't have any particular interest in motorbikes and travelling.

I did show it to my BMW biker friends and as expected they loved it (right up their street and they know the bikes well many service them too) But even if you're not even slightly interested in biking or BMW's this is a very informative and a really enjoyable journey and thus recommended. Bar the editing issue a very good watch
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DISCLAIMER: The distributor provided me with a free sample of this DVD set in exchange for an honest review. What follows is that review -

In 2010 Canadian brothers Ryan and Colin Pyle decided to circumnavigate around China on the back of two BMW motorcycles. Their journey eventually covered over 18,000 kilometres, took 65 days and garnered them a Guinness World Record. The brothers Pyle decided at the time to fully document their journey and this DVD contains all the episodes of a short TV series that they cut together from said footage.

Their adventure was developed as a way for the two brothers to bond again after spending so much time apart, and any subsequent books and videos coming out of it were secondary considerations. In truth, that comes across loud and clear in this production which is neither fish nor fowl and comes across at times like a professionally produced video of a family holiday.

The basic set-up is good. Ryan is somebody who lives in, loves and is knowledgeable about China, whilst Colin is an outsider with a slightly negative viewpoint towards what he thinks China is. Colin states at one point, "I didn't think there were pretty places in China," and it is genuinely Interesting to see how Colin's attitudes to China change as their journey progresses. Speaking of pretty places, the landscape shots are beautiful and you do get a good sense of the differing geographies in the country and the sense that the climate can completely change in a very short space of time and a very short distance. The Pyle brothers ride through sweltering heat, torrential rain and blankets of snow.

Another interesting (and rather bitter-sweet) point is that it all ends not with a bang, but with a whimper. They did this adventure but nobody really knew it was going on, and so when they roll up after having completed their Guinness World Record achieving feat there's nobody there to cheer them home, the core team quietly shake hands and part ways.

Sadly, overall, there's not a great deal of detail to be found here about the areas they pass through, though some areas such as Kashgar (a favourite of Ryan's) do get more time spent on them. Ryan seems very diplomatic about some of the more contentious issues he brings up, such as the homogenisation of China's urban landscapes through its continuing 'development.' Many older and distinctive cities are losing their character as their older buildings are torn down for modern tower blocks. This is something that many Chinese are vocal about. The journey to Xinjiang doesn't even make mention of any of the social problems there that do flare up there regularly. I suppose this could be because he needs to keep it 'light' and he does still live in China so might not wish to be seen to be criticising it if he feels a certain way.

In general, the lack of any real detail forms the basis of my complaints about this set. You could say that it's a necessity given the format in which it is presented. The 6 'episodes' contained in this DVD set are roughly 26 minutes long and probably produced as such to fit a 30-minute slot (with adverts) in a TV schedule. This is further backed up by two or so of those minutes being made up of the same introduction so that people can miss episodes and still know what it's about, this is then followed by a 'Previously On...' section and the episode finishes with a 'Next Time...' preview.

This format shouldn't really hold for a DVD release though. It's a bit of a shame that the episodes couldn't have been extended and re-edited to make the basis for a long-form documentary about their journey. If, for some rights reasons, this format had to remain then an additional 'Making Of' documentary would have been cool, as the accompanying book details many logistical challenges and the story to put this all together sounds as interesting as the venture itself. Sadly though, there are no bonus materials supplied, this set is bare-bones. It seems, in many ways, like an expensive advert for the accompanying book which so far has given a lot more detail (as you'd expect) but it should really function on its own and it doesn't, really, to my mind.

At the end of the day though, it's not a case of this set being 'bad' per se, it's more a question of asking, "Who is this for?" in this format. For someone wanting to learn more about China, its landscape and people, this is very light on detail. For someone wanting to learn more about the brother's journey across China this is also pretty light on detail as the coverage moves so fast from place to place and omits a lot of places altogether. If you're a fan of the Pyle brothers, however, then you should be able to garner some enjoyment from the hi-jinks portrayed here, and if you're mad into motorbikes and enjoy watching people ride them across different landscapes then there's plenty of that here for you too.

But is this set even worth buying for that audience?

Well, the DVD is self-published but contains decent production qualities. The picture quality is very good for standard definition and well encoded, the sound quality is stereo only but good and clear where the original source will allow. Since some of the footage is live-recorded from small headset microphones moving at high speed then those moments contains tinny sound, interference and lots of ambient noise. This is to be expected though and other than that, the more traditionally recorded segments are absolutely fine. The DVD contains no extra materials of any kind, just the 6 episodes running at roughly 26 minutes each which makes you question if it even needed 2 DVDs at all? On this one though, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and suggest that they wanted to keep the A/V bit-rates as high as possible. (Don't say I'm not a generous soul.)

The episodes themselves are the kind of stuff that often gets shown on the 'Travel Channel' or 'Discovery Channel,' it's a quick, easy and undemanding watch and I'd certainly recommend catching it if it was on TV. What kills the DVD set for me though is the lack of any bonus materials whatsoever surrounding this epic, Guinness World Record setting journey around China which would give a tremendous scope for extra features, so, unless you're a massive 'motorbike' or 'Pyle Brothers' fan then, sadly, I really can't recommend a purchase of this set.
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This was utterly EPIC !!!
I had originally decided to watch this 2 Disc DVD box set over a couple of days as each disk holds 3 episodes.
However you know when you watch something and you get utterly engrossed in something and you end up watching the whole lot back to back ? Well I did. Luckily each episode is abut 30 mins so the whole thing back to back is around 3 hours *but* you can trim about 5 mins off each episode as it's juust a re-cap of the previous episode. *Niggle* When you select to watch all episodes back to back the edit should allow you to by pass the re-cap.
The Disc itself is kind of like one of those TOP GEAR adventures but it's with 2 brothers who are very down to earth and don't induldge in all that fake staged challenges that Clarkson, May and Hammond engage in. It's that mix between video diary and documentary that makes it so engageing.
The video diaries themselves are very telling and interesting. One of the surprises were how quickly their emotions soared and dived and how quickly they became dispondant. As an ex-serviceman you realise that most individuals are simply not mentally geared to take on extra-ordinary challenges and this makes the DVD that much more 'real' as it were.
Thoroughly enjoyable though and if they ever read this I'd love to make a couple of requests:

Give a breakdown of all the kit you are using such as the bike make and model, camera's, clothing etc. etc. and perhaps give a commentary post ride on what worked well and what didn't. Preparation you did or wish you did etc.
It's always worth considering that a lot of folks who watch this will be thinking about doing something similar and so would take any extra hints like this to heart.

AC

Looking forward to the India Ride !!!!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 23 February 2015
was sent this item in order to provide an honest review. The Middle Kingdom Ride is a 2 Disc DVD set which is enjoyable and interesting to watch, particular for those with a penchant for travel and China! I have also reviewed the book that accompanies this DVD and I think Ryan and Colin Pyle come across as nice guys with a real passion for what they are doing.

The viewer inevitably becomes immersed in their journey and it was really nice to share their triumphs and difficulties with them, even if it was vicariously. This DVD has just increased my desire to visit China one day, it is an amazing place and though I have always known about its huge range of cultural and geographical variety, I feel that watching this DVD has broadened my knowledge which is great. Some of the locations are jaw-droppingly stunning and will take your breath away!

In some ways it is fairly similar to the kind of trips that Clarkson et al. on Top Gear do, but Colin and Ryan are much more interesting, charismatic and genuine to watch! I liked how the documentary is interspersed with video diaries, this makes it engaging for the viewer and you really empathise with the guys.

I think this DVD set will appeal to most people as you don't have to be really into motorbikes to watch this. Overall The Middle Kingdom Ride would make a great gift and I would certainly recommend it to those interested in travel and China.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2014
We watched the whole trip in one night and really enjoyed it. It was informative, really well filmed (the production values were as good as both the Long Way films), the brothers both had a good sense of humour and really seemed to enjoy each others company. We certainly learnt a lot about China that we didn't know before. Can't wait for their next trip around India
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2013
A incredible journey around China with only their bikes - overcoming some of the worst road conditions and weather that most of us couldn't never imagine. The DVDs give some unique insights of part of China normal people don't get to see. I am from China myself, but it has made me fall in love with my own country all over again! Great stuff!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 19 March 2015
Superb DVD (book also available) about the journey of 2 Canadian brothers Colin and Ryan Pyle riding an 18,000 Km, 65 day journey around China. Full of highs and lows, bike breakdowns and great stories. Recommended.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon 2 December 2014
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DISCLOSURE:
I was kindly supplied this item free of charge to test and evaluate. In exchange, I agreed to provide an honest review detailing my thoughts. This is said review.
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---- FIRST IMPRESSIONS / THOUGHTS ----

There are two discs, each containing three episodes. Each episode is around 20 mins (of new footage) long, so this'll take you around two hours to watch.
A small annoyance is that at the beginning of each episode, is a recap of the previous. This would be great if you were watching one a week on TV, but on DVD it's unnecessary. This is easily combatted by jumping ahead around 2mins at the start of each episode.

I was excited to watch this, as I had massively enjoyed Ewan Mcgregor's trip, `Long Way Round', around the world on a motorbike.

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---- WHAT'S IT ABOUT? ----

Two brother's childhood promise of circumnavigating China on motorbikes is realised. One is already living there, so has local knowledge and speaks the language; the other lives in Canada, sells his business, his house, and jumps on a plane to take part in this epic journey.

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---- THE ADVENTURE... ----

We all know everything about China, right? :

- Many things are made there, and according to the media, often in less than favourable conditions, and by those whom we consider too young.
- Thousands of massive factories, all pumping out breath-taking (quite literally) amounts of pollution.
- Hugely overpopulated - if you visit, get ready to get friendly.

Whilst these stereotypes may be born of certain truths, they are not the China that millions upon millions of people see every day - and certainly not the China that Ryan and Colin explore during their trip.

The story starts with a little back story about why they are doing this, and briefly covers their planning and preparation stages.
The trip begins in Shanghai. It's big, busy and noisy - the brothers can't wait to leave.
Their plan is to travel anti-clockwise around the inside of China, stopping off at specific landmarks and sights.

Their trip was fraught with setbacks and challenges; flash floods, vehicle breakdowns, extreme traffic, crashes, the list goes on. But for every negative, there was a positive just around the corner including beautiful scenery, along with extremely kind and generous locals.

It was certainly interesting having one brother know the country, and the other not. I must admit I was also (at least partially) of the stereotypical views listed above.

One of the main reasons I loved The Long Way Round, was because of the relationship and back-and-forth between the two main protagonists. This DVD set had a similar feel.

The one major negative about this DVD set is this...it's too short! It's depressing to be on day X, and then suddenly be told you've jumped forward a week or two to day Y, because you feel like you've missed out. I would have loved this box-set to have been at least twice as long, if not more - I very easily could have watched it all.
I felt like though their journey, I wanted to get to know these brothers better, and watch their relationship grow; I wanted to see more of what was, from my somewhat ignorant perspective at least, a completely new country - I wanted to witness more of its countryside and spectacular views, more of the locals and how their lives and personalities differ from village to village, city to city.

The brothers have written a book to accompany this DVD, which I can only recommend.
They have also since embarked upon another bike adventure around India. There is already a book about this, and a DVD coming in the new year. I can't wait to see the unseen sights of India, and go beyond the standard western thoughts on such countries.

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---- CONCLUSION ----

Whether you're a biker or not (I'm not), you'll enjoy watching not only the ever-changing scenery and experiences that travelling around China entails, but also watch Ryan and Colin embark upon it together.

An easy 5 stars...

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OVERVIEW
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Would I recommend this product to a friend? Yes.

PROS:
✓ Well put together with on-screen place names etc
✓ Good relationship between the brothers makes it great to watch
✓ Beautiful scenery
✓ Amazingly generous and kind people

CONS:
✗ I want more!

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If you have any questions regarding this product, feel free to leave comments down below - I'm happy to help...
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