1 MILE ABOVE
Shuhau (Bryan Chang) is a 24 year old Taiwanese university graduate, whose older brother Shuwei, dies unexpectedly on a bicycle trek to Lhasa. Despite his inexperience, Shuhao decides to fulfil his brother's final wish and sets out to complete the journey himself, which will take him to some of the highest points in Tibet. He encounters many life threatening challenges along the way. (Based on a true story.)
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
An act of brotherly love, an adventure, an endurance test, a spiritual test and a dangerous trek; these are all the descriptions that fit 1 Mile Above, which has been likened to The Motorcycle Diaries. There is indeed a superficial similarity between the two films, both based on true stories, both stories of an epic ride across vast distances; the former on a motorbike across Latin America, this on a pushbike across China and Tibet.
But the similarities are not important; the differences are. In this less sophisticated film, we are less engaged, mostly because we hardly get to know Shuhau (Bryan Chang). Not only is the dialogue sparse, the focus is on the cycling across often striking terrain, the emphasis on the undulations of altitude, climbing and dropping several thousand metres, exhausting the traveller.
There is, however, one touching stop-over, when Shuhau and his newly acquired cycling companion, Xiaochuan (Li Xiaochuan), take refuge with a young widow, her parents in law and her small son, all of whom take a shine to Shuhau - and he to them, ending in a tearful parting. Inside this modest home I would have liked the camera to be less restless, letting us explore this fascinating culture in more detail.
Elsewhere, too, the camera seems to be trying more to hide details than to show them, inlcuding some crucial scenes of misadventure. From the way the film I shot, we are tempted to think that perhaps the cameraman is trying to emulate the hand held syndrome fashionable in Hollywood. Let's hope not.
After a nasty accident, Shuhau is alone again on the long and winding road - all up, 1100 kilometres of it. It's almost too much for him at times ... almost.
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1 MILE ABOVE (M)
CAST: Bryan Chang, Li Xiaochuan, Li Tao, Michael Chang
PRODUCER: Tao Kun, Han Xiaoling, Qian Shimu
DIRECTOR: Di Jiayi
SCRIPT: Chang Chia-Lu, Cheng Hsiao-Che (book by Xie Wanglin)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jlu Du
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Wang Yi
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Odin's Eye
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney & Brisbane: May 30; Melbourne: June 4, 2013