For most of us, driving 60 mph is just a common and forgettable freeway occurrence; our hand lazily holding the bottom of the steering wheel, our elbow jutting out the driver side window cutting into the wind, and our eyes robotically transfixed on the red and beige taillights slightly ahead. But for Grand Prix motorcycle racers, 60 mph becomes an entirely different animal. Because 60 mph is anything but mundane to a professional racer when their finely tuned race bike is leaned over 30 degrees with the edge of their race tires fighting for every bit of traction the laws of physics will allow. Their torsos hop off the seat and over to the side of the bike to change the center of gravity, while their knees softly scrape the asphalt, giving them key information as to just how close their bike is to the brink of crashing. On banked corners some racers nearly manage to get their elbows on the ground, creating the illusion of infallible adhesion. And the best, or craziest, of racers seem to defy the laws of physics altogether by over-rotating their rear wheels when entering a corner, causing their two-wheeled chariots to undergo a "controlled" drift. And believe it or not, this is the slow part of the race.
When the track opens up giving way to the lengthy straightaway, today's Moto GP bikes can reach speeds of excess of 214 mph. A crash at this speed means almost certain death, or at the very least an endless list of broken bones and shattered dreams. At first it sounds insane that any person would want to go so fast with no more protection than a fiberglass helmet and a skin-tight suit of armored leather, but the more you watch, the more you understand; the faster you go, the more stable you become. It's not until things slow down, or when corners approach, that the situation becomes hairy.
In the world of 200 + mph racing, Moto GP is as good as it gets. For it not only has the raw thrill of astronomical speeds, but also the never-ending action of passing, which is becoming a lost art in some of today's most popular motor sports. And a Moto GP race isn't over till the last pass is made and the winner crosses the finish line. Watching a pass in Moto GP is like watching Allen Iverson juke Shaq right out of his sneakers in route to the basket. Passing is strategic, dangerous, and at times even beautiful. Passing is where the race is won or lost. Wait too long and you'll be watching someone else drench the umbrella girl in champagne. But pass too early, and you could be setting yourself up to be nipped at the checkered flag.
This is Moto GP; sixteen races in eight months, on five continents. And if you're not familiar with Moto GP don't feel bad because you're not alone. Professional motorcycle racing is still quite a ways down the list of "must see" sporting events for most Americans. But this is largely due to lack of marketing. In other countries, the top racers are elevated to near God-like status, with names such as Max Biaggi and Valentino Rossi being chanted in sports bars with all the enthusiasm of a Super Bowl frat party. Perhaps if more Americans were introduced to the sport of Grand Prix motorcycle racing, they'd demand more TV coverage. Only time will tell. Until then, it seems only the truest motor sports fans and sport bike fanatics are privy to the world of Moto GP. Which is precisely the reason why Mark Neale felt compelled to create his latest and greatest sports documentary. Neale's gritty documentary about the world of Moto GP is truly gripping. Wonderfully narrated by Ewan Mcgregor,
Faster creates an atmosphere not unlike the classic sports documentaries of the 1970's. Most of
Faster is told by way of racer, writer, and worker interviews. The interviewees are clearly passionate about the sport, and pull no punches in their responses. They dish the dirt on rivalries, controversial incidents, and other aspects of Moto GP, such as the fierce accidents that plague any high-speed motor sport. But in the end it's the competition that really pulls you into the action. And if action is what you're looking for, you'll find plenty of it here. Sports writer Michael Scott summed it up best when describing the mentality behind Moto GP racers; "it's madness." And after watching the extravagant film clips of racers in action in
Faster, one would be hard pressed to disagree.
In addition to the incredible footage in Faster that covered the 2001 and 2002 seasons,
Faster the Ultimate Collector's Edition comes with a second disc offering the sequel to
Faster. Faster & Faster '03-'04 starts up right where Faster left off, covering the 2003 season and the intro to 2004. The sequel is especially informative because of the regulation changes in 2003 that allowed 1000 cc four-stroke engines to compete with the traditional 500 cc two-strokes. The fight between bikes was not as glamorous as one might have hoped, as the four-strokes quickly proved to be quicker, smoother, and nearly unbeatable. The
Faster sequel offers a perfect look at the future of the sport, and I couldn't be more pleased with its inclusion in this remarkable DVD set. If you're one of the few who rushed out to buy
Faster when it first came out, you probably won't feel bad about double dipping for the new addition. I know I wouldn't.
Faster is simply a "must have" DVD for any sport bike enthusiast. It's compelling, exciting, and just plain cool. If you're even remotely interested in motorcycle racing, you owe it to yourself to check this movie out.
Faster is presented in roughly 1.85:1 widescreen, and even though Faster looks adequate on a smaller tube TV, watching it on a projection system can be frustrating. The main culprit, as is often the case with independent films or documentaries, is excessive pixelation. Throughout most of the feature jagged edges and digital grids can be seen rearing their ugly heads. Fortunately this fault does not make
Faster unwatchable, as the movie quickly draws you in causing you to forget about the less than perfect picture. Aside from pixelation, there isn't much to complain about. Thankfully edge enhancement is not visible, although I'd gladly trade edge enhancement halos for bad pixelation any day of the week. In the end I was disappointed, but not enough to hinder my enjoyment of the movie.
Faster has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, and sounds fairly decent. Dialogue is easy to hear during most of the feature, and the roaring engines of sport bikes capable of over 200 mph rip through the speakers like fighter jets heading for war. However, audio from the rear surrounds are rarely heard, and the musical cues aren't as punchy as they could have
been. But otherwise Faster sounds very good indeed.
The special features offered in this set can be found on disc two, and they aren't so much special features, as they are extra scenes. But the extra scenes are so informative and interesting you'll feel like your viewing something special. Here you'll find extended interviews and some excellent onboard racing footage from varying rider angles. After watching
Faster and the Faster sequel, you'll likely eat the extra scenes up.
Faster is a tire-rippin' thrill ride for motor sports junkies and novices alike, and it introduces the sport of Moto GP to newbies more effectively than any magazine article, TV show, or bike-obsessed friend ever could. It'll make newcomer's jaws drop, and bike nuts salivate for the next track day. It's the clearest window into the world of the fastest sport on two wheels. And if you find yourself watching
Faster with a full set of race leathers complete with matching helmet, don't worry, I won't tell.