________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 21 . . . . June 8, 2007


Duhamel: Adrenaline Rush.

Stéphan Gravel (Writer & Director). Yves Fortin (Les Productions Thalie Producer). Jacques Turgeon (NFB Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2004.
45 min., VHS or DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: C9104 306.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by John Dryden.

*** /4


I’m not paid to be two seconds off the pace... There are maybe some factors that might inhibit yourself going to that speed, but we’re not going to stay at two seconds off the pace ­ we’re going to start re-inventing the limit, we’re going to start pushing it more.

Duhamel: Adrenaline Rush follows the storied career of Quebec motorcycle racer Miguel Duhamel. This is a good film that certainly demonstrates determination to achieve and overcome. As well, the viewer gets to hear and see the joy and pain of sport (in this case, motorcycle racing).

     The documentary carries itself without any narration. There is both English and sub-titled English (when French is spoken). The speakers are answering questions that were edited out. We only hear the answer. I would have expected and appreciated narration at some points (or some subtitled text to clarify) as some clarification was necessary. For example, it could have explained what race series Miguel was racing in. I did not connect to this film as deeply I might have.

     The determination exhibited by Duhamel is remarkable. In 2003, he finishes fifth. In 2004, he finishes second and first (in different race series). Miguel Duhamel is a spectacular role model of setting a goal and determination in being the best you can be. Miguel breaks his collar bone in an early race of 2003. Two weeks later, he is back on the bike and racing. The collar bone injury dogs Miguel the entire season, and he is plagued by bad luck and a few crashes. He is always  focused on being better, finding ways of learning the new bike technologies and finding the best “feedback” from his bike (which is metaphorically being able to plug your own nervous system into that of the bike's in order to understand how the bike is running and making adjustments where necessary).

     Duhamel’s family and girlfriend are his constant support and fans. There is some time spent discussing the successes of his father, Yvon, to highlight the fact that racing has run in his family. His mom mentions that she has been involved in supporting Yvon, and Miguel for 42 years! Racing has become a part of her life. Duhamel ends the documentary by re-stating his determination to push his own limits before he resigns.

     The bonus features are not really worthwhile. They would be more accurately labeled “Extra facts and details” as they are really not spectacular in any respect.

     There were a couple of sore spots for me:

     There is one incident of swearing, which is said by the crew boss after Duhamel is taken out of a race and the 2003 series is lost.

     I did not know which series of motorcycle racing I was watching. I am not sure what series he was racing in or what he was racing for ­ there seems to be many intertwined series; one called Formula Xtreme and another is AMA Superbike, and yet another called Supersport Series (I have a feeling there are many more). 

     Obviously, Duhamel is a great rider and racer. I wish they had pointed this fact out at the beginning of the film. If you do not know who Miguel Duhamel is, why would you care what he has to say? How do we know this man is any good or even races at a first class level? I would have had a better viewing experience knowing from the outset that Duhamel is one of the very best riders from the past 15 years! This is not explained in the documentary at any point, although, if the “bonus” features are browsed, it becomes clear that whatever Duhamel races, wherever he races, he is one of the premiere racers.

     The bonus features are not remarkable. They are important, however, as they do show in a textual format the timeline of Duhamel’s career. It is easier to find this information about Miguel in a Google search. There is a segment called “At the Duhamels” where viewers are given a personal look at the trophy room and Yvon’s collection of all things related to his family’s racing experiences. This tour does not add to the theme of determination (at all). It really is just a tour and will be interesting to a select few motorcycle enthusiasts. There is also a photo gallery with a few dozen pictures of Duhamel in races, after races, and a couple shots with friends or family (it is not clear as there are no captions).

     The main film is good and would serve well to be used in a “determination” and “achievement” theme.


John Dryden is a teacher-librarian in Duncan, B.C.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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