Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles (Qian li zou dan qi) (2005)

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Released 16-Apr-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Dolby Digital Trailer
Featurette-Making Of-(18:40)
Trailer-Monster House; Open Season; Zoom
Trailer-The Benchwarmers; Yours, Mine & Ours
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 104:30
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:51) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Yimou Zhang

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Ken Takakura
Shinobu Terajima
Kiichi Nakai
Jiamin Li
Lin Qiu
Jiang Wen
Ken Nakamoto
Li Bin Li
Ziliang Chen
Zhezhou He
Zhenbo Yang
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Wenjing Guo

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Takata (Ken Takakura) is an elderly chap who harbours great regret over the years of silence between he and his estranged son, Kenichi (Kiichi Nakai). When Kenichi becomes gravely ill, his wife Rie (Shinobu Terajima) contacts Takata urgently and he races to the hospital only to find his visit refused by his son. Crushed, but wanting to make some kind of gesture, Rie hands him a video tape, saying it contains footage of Kenichi's recent trip to China. The tape contains a video he made of a traditional mask opera, complete with an interview of the lead singer. After the performance, the lead singer apologises for having a flu and promises to perform the greatest Chinese mask opera for them; Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, stating that he is one of the few who are talented enough to perform the difficult piece. Kenichi promises on tape to return to see the performance, but clearly never made it back.

    With his son still refusing to see him, Takata makes an impulsive decision to travel to Lijiang City, China to film the opera himself, with a mind to show his son on his return to Tokyo. There are a number of hurdles Takata must overcome before he can view the Opera, the first and most disappointing one is the fact that the lead singer is now serving prison time for assault. With the help of a local interpreter, Takata must sieve through endless red tape and governmental bureaucracy to gain access to the prisoner and arrange a performance. Takata is stubborn, determined and fuelled by love for his son to capture the performance, but when he finally gets to the prison he finds he is unable to film because the lead singer, Li (Li Jiamin), is far too emotional. He's missing his own boy- an illegitimate son he never met. Takata feels deeply sympathetic to Li and vows to bring to two together before he films the opera.

    Takata travels to a remote Chinese village to find the boy, Yang Yang (Yang Zhenbo), but finds his mother has died and he is now considered a ward of the village. The journey is far from over and despite their language barriers, Takata will develop a bond with the boy that may help ease the pain of his own missed opportunities.

    Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles is quite a departure for director Zhang Yimou, given his recent focus on action and swordplay in films such as Hero and House of Flying Daggers. This film is genuinely moving, buoyed by astounding performances from the largely amateur cast. Japanese cinema legend Ken Takakura is very powerful in his role as the stubborn father.

    Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles is a beautiful film that proves the journey is only half the battle and, in what is sadly a rare feat for filmmaking, reinforces the importance of a loving father-son bond.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1, with 16x9 enhancement.

    The image is generally sharp and clear, but does not fare too well when viewed on a big screen. Grain is the main issue here, and it appears to be a combination of both film and compression grain. The image is very noisy in some scenes, particularly in lower light.

    Colours are bold and well handled. I didn't note any bleeding or inconsistencies in the image, while skin tones appear relatively accurate.

    MPEG compression issues range from haloing around foreground objects to a noticeable crawl of grain in some scenes. Film artefacts are present, but never extend beyond a slight amount of wobble and the odd spec of dirt here or there. An example of extreme grain can be seen at 46:56, while a slightly wobbly shot is present at 60:17.

    Two English subtitle streams are included, among a myriad of other languages. The first is your average white text, which is well paced and easy to read. The second English stream is contained in a black bar that obscures a large portion of the image.

    This disc is dual layered, however I did not notice the transition on my system. The break is placed in a still, quiet moment between scenes at 60:51.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are two soundtracks accompanying this film on DVD. The default soundtrack is the film's original audio; a mixture of Mandarin and Japanese, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s). A Spanish dub is included.

    The dialogue is always prominent and easy to discern above effects and score. The ADR is seamless and audio sync is perfect.

    The surround channels are used only for subtleties such as adding a little weight to the score, as well as some atmospherics. Seagulls can be heard passing in the rear channels at 10:30, and a whistle echoes behind the viewer at 69:45. Voices are generally confined to the front centre channel.

    The score is traditional in flavour, with pan flutes and other traditional string instruments, as well as percussion. The music suits the mood and pace of the film perfectly.

    The subwoofer is used to augment the drums in the score, which is nice. There isn't a lot of call for LFE activity in the film, so this is appropriate.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu page is static and silent.

Dolby Digital Trailer

Featurette- Making-of (18:40)

    This Making Of follows the production to the beautiful Yunnan province in China and interviews Director Zhang Yimou and actor Ken Takakura, who each discuss their admiration for one another and their experiences working with amateur actors. This piece is presented in 1.33:1, with optional English or Spanish subtitles.

Trailers (5)

    Unrelated trailers for the films Monster House, Open Season, The Benchwarmers, Yours, Mine & Ours and Zoom.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 3 NTSC Zoke Culture disc I have on hand (107:36) has unsightly duplicated frames in the transfer, making pans and movement on screen appear very jerky indeed. Strangely, the image has much less grain, and a nice dts audio option is included. These don't make up for the dodgy image, I'm afraid (it only cost me a few dollars, so I guess I can't complain).

    The Region 1 NTSC disc (also coded for Region 4) only differs in foreign language dubs (and NTSC formatting, of course).


    Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles is a beautiful, moving film every father should see. I recommend it highly.

    The video transfer is excessively grainy.

    The audio transfer is good.

    The extras are brief, but worthwhile.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using HDMI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR3806
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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