Don’t let the goofy title fool you; The Doctor, the Tornado, and the Kentucky Kid is a serious documentary. This film takes an inside look at the fast-paced world of MotoGP motorcycle racing. Specifically, the subject is the lives of three top riders as they enter the week of the race at Laguna Seca, one of the most difficult tracks in the world. While this film may be a little too in-depth for those that don’t at least casually follow the sport, fans of motorcycle racing will likely be thrilled with this, the…sequel to the popular film Faster.
Often times, sports films get tedious as the story drags on. Since this one focuses on just one race, however, viewers don’t get bogged down in the grind of a full season. Plus, as with the sport itself, the riders are living on the edge of their mortality throughout, and the viewer really gets the sense that instantaneous death could occur at any time. This sense of tension perfectly mimics the film’s subject matter, and it goes a long way to helping the at-home viewer stay engaged with the material. Director Mark Neale has done an excellent job of crafting a documentary that is exciting, yet still dramatic and informative.
Audio is fairly impressive, especially for a documentary feature. It’s pretty rare to find a documentary with a full 5.1 track, but if ever a film deserved such treatment, this is it. The producers take full advantage of this opportunity, too. The sound of the bikes moves beautifully across the room left to right and front to back, mimicking the actions of the vehicle on the screen. Volume levels are also handled very well, with the motorcycle engines being loud, but not so loud that the viewer is forced to keep reaching for their remote. Ewan Macgregor’s narration also sounds crisp, and his voice perfectly fits the subject matter. It also helps to know that he is a motorcycle fan in real life. All in, I would say that I was pleasantly pleased with the audio track here.
This film is mastered in High Definition, but you’d never know that if you didn’t read it on the back of the box. I’m sorry to say that the quality of the video here is kind-of a mess. Lots of the shots are full of jaggies, and many of the cameras used look to be glorified high-end consumer cams. Bright colors also become a problem, which is especially discouraging when you consider how bright racing bikes and uniforms are. Many shots are lacking definition, which is a real shame when you look at what great camera work has gone into this product. If the filmmakers had been able to invest a little more in the equipment on the front end, this could have been a disc so visually impressive that it could be a reference disc. I am saddened to say that the finished product is anything but.
It is a little odd that this is a two-disc set, yet there are only two special features. Disc one provides viewers with eleven additional scenes that were removed from the final film. These scenes appear to be fully edited, but consist only of ambient audio, with no narration. In this way, they are really more like extra footage than fully realized scenes that were cut from the final product.
Disc two consists entirely of one special feature. However, I must admit that it is a pretty cool one. Viewers have the option to watch the race at Laguna Seca in its entirety while switching between various camera angles using the “angle” button on their DVD remote. If this had been simply a segment of the race it would have been nice, but that fact that it is the entire event is really impressive. Personally, my favorite angle was the “multi-angle” option, that shows five angle options tiled on the screen at once. Cameras on the front and back of the bikes are utilized, as well as the traditional TV cam. If the NFL would start releasing big games like the Super Bowl on DVD with this feature, I’d be there in a heartbeat. That tells me that racing fans will be in heaven with this seemingly-unnecessary bonus disc.
As I said before, don’t be sidetracked by the horrible name of this film (which refers to the nicknames of the three drivers whose stories are told here. This is a very well done documentary that will be interesting for the casual viewer, and may become required viewing for serious MotoGP enthusiasts. I am sad to report that the video has some serious problems, but quality audio and a couple of great special features make up for it somewhat. Every Docurama DVD release I have ever seen has been a high quality product, and this one continues that tradition. If you think you will like this disc, you’re probably right.
Special Features List
- 11 Additional Scenes
- Interactive Racing clips