“It's rare to see a film made under such physically demanding circumstances as “Arrows of Fire”. It's an intimate film that delves deep into the psyche of the riders which is how it transcends the typical road trip movie.”
Jamie Gonçalves - True/False Film Festival
“There are scenes in “Arrows of Fire” that are too painful to watch because I’ve lived them. And there are others where I want to rewind and relive the moment again and again.”
Mark Hinchcliffe - Journalist and editor of Motorbike Writer
“There’s plenty I identified with in this movie, from the feelings of straight road boredom, to helplessly watching a hurt son, to the exhilaration of just getting out back on two wheels. I reckon many motorcyclists will see glimpses of themselves in this movie. And certainly recognise glimpses of their riding mates!”
Sam Maclachlan - Australian Motorcycle News
"Epic story of true motorcycling adventure mixed with pain, pathos and imagination. ! Loved it”
Ralph Leavsey-Moase - Motorcycle Journalist
That old adage ‘you should never judge a book by its cover’ is so often true. But what of DVDs? It’s a new media and surely all the bright young things who indulge themselves in film-making have an eye for design, so if nothing else, the cover will be good.
‘Arrows of Fire’ the new film by Duncan Menge and Josh Evans, scores incredibly highly on the packaging and I’ll admit to experiencing something of a frisson when I ripped open the delivery. The sleeve notes are elegantly designed, the artwork and imagery top class and they’re all presented in a little tin circular box designed to look like an old cine-film canister; all cues that these guys are serious about film. Actually they are serious about photography too and that’s how they professionally trained.
The last movie of theirs that Overland had the pleasure of reviewing; ‘Eye of the Rider’, was of an absolutely terrific adventure in the Snowy Mountains region of Australia. For this one they’re a team of four riding the same 110cc Honda postie bikes (and a KTM) into the heart of the Aussie flat, red outback.
The great camera angles, filmography and similar professionalism abounds, but this is definitely not ‘more of the same’. For this journey and film there is a central catalytic moment around which everything hinges, forcing the whole feel of the film to be different. To be fair, so does the rather flat featureless landscape which can never provide the riding excitement of the mountains which acted as the backdrop to their last.
Arrows of Fire is more reportage – onbike and dynamic footage interspersed with reflective monologue from each of the protagonists. It examines motorcycle travel and relationships but isn’t accompanied by witty narration in the previous manner
There isn’t as much dry Australian interactive dialogue either, but there is an inner honesty that isn’t often given much space in adventure motorcycle films. In fact I’m not absolutely sure it fits within the genre, but then it does feature bikes with knobbly tyres, some huge landscapes and the route less travelled, so who knows? Are there strict parameters to adventure motorcycling anyway?
If judging the success of a film like this depends on whether or not it’ll make you travel, then I’d best not judge it. It may make you question the efficacy of the whole thing, but then perhaps that is exactly what it tries to do. As it says on the tin, it’s about comradeship, discovery and endurance and perhaps it’s best you just watch it.
There are scenes in “Arrows of Fire” that are too painful to watch because I’ve lived them. And there are others where I want to rewind and relive the moment again and again.
Anyone who has ever done any adventure riding in the Outback will be able to relate to this documentary and that’s the beauty of this 65-minute DVD about four guys on an adventure ride to a rally in north-west NSW. It helps that the video is beautifully shot and has TV-quality production values, but it’s the raw emotion of the story telling that makes this compelling viewing. The subtitle is “A Journey Through the Eye of the Rider” and that’s exactly what it is. Without any support vehicles, this video was shot by the four guys on the ride, so it has an intimate quality, almost as if you are along for the epic adventure.
It’s essentially the story of a father and son and a couple of mates who ride three postie bikes and a KTM to the Off Centre Rally at Wanaaring in NSW in 2010. For anyone who has ever documented their adventure ride into the Outback, they will know just how difficult it is to get interesting and varied footage. The footage, or “mileage” as they call it, is comprehensive, panoramic and interesting. It’s not just shots of guys riding fast, doing jumps and crashing, says Josh Evans who features in the video.
“We definitely did set out to take the speed and macho out of a motorbike film and we like heaviness in films,” he says. “Many people are after the speed and crazy stuff but we went for a quieter story, one that people could relate to rather than aspire to.”
Without giving too much away, Josh crashes and that is what gives their adventure more meaning, drama and pathos. It is also the part of the DVD that is almost too painful for me to watch since I experienced a nasty crash in a remote region a few years ago.
“We didn’t set out to make this film like this obviously, but we were documenting a ride and many rides do turn out like this,” Josh says. “Showing a side that rarely gets any air time became important when we discovered how little crashing and motorcycle relationships get talked about. Many people contact us saying thanks for showing a difficult part of riding a bike and for showing some optimism too.”
Surprisingly, some of the segments I enjoyed watching were not the riding scenes, but the moments of camaraderie while lighting a campfire, eating dinner or sharing a beer at a pub at the end of a long day’s ride. “I feel there is a lot more than a crash in this film,” says Josh. “Many don’t see it but I hope you found more. It is not for me to spell out on screen, I will leave it to be whatever it is for you.”
While no video camera will ever replicate the soul and solitude of the riding experience, this does get close at times. Viewers won’t be bored by endless rider’s eye GoPro footage. There is a wide variety of interesting camera angles employed by all the riders. It helps that three of the riders are professional photographers.
Interestingly, the DVD comes in a little tin can like an old film reel for $22.95 or you may also enjoy their previous DVD, Eye of the Rider for $19.95 which was made in 2010 about the Alpine Rally. Click here to buy the DVDs.