Long Way Down

DVD Reviews | Oct 15th, 2008

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Starring Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman, Russ Malkin, David Alexanian, Claudio Von Planta, Eve Mavrakis
Written By:
Directed By: Russ Malkin, David Alexanian
Studio: EMI America Records
Buy on Amazon.com link

Long Way Round was an excellent one-off adventure documentary starring Ewan McGregor and long-time friend Charley Boorman (son of director John Boorman). The duo traveled from England to New York, going the long way round the globe just on their motorbikes. This time, the friends are reunited as they make another life-changing journey from the top of Scotland, all the way down to Cape Town, South Africa. This series is very interesting and entertaining and I highly recommend watching Long Way Round first, then Long Way Down!

Long Way Down is a documentary series that originally aired 6 episodes in the UK and now is expanded to 10 episodes on DVD. It stars actors Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman, who love motorbikes and everything involved with them. For personal reasons and for charity work, the duo decides to do another trip and bring back the original team of directors/producers Russ Malkin, David Alexanian, cameraman Claudio Von Planta. They plan out a trip from the top of Scotland all the way down to South Africa. They will travel over 15,000 miles just on their motorbikes and occasionally, have to travel on ferries or boats to get to other countries. The following countries the group travel in is: Scotland, England, France, Switzerland, Italy, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. As you can see, they traveled many distances and went through lots of countries. During the trip, their friendship is tested, plus they have to deal with bike problems, bad roads and terrain, passing through customs, sandstorms, rainstorms and lots of other things you’d expect on a massive trip like this. Their goal is to get to Cape Town in 3 months, but also to have fun and not kill each other in the process.

Originally, I thought Long Way Down wasn’t as good as Long Way Round but after seeing the extended 10 episodes; I changed my mind. They are both equally fantastic and really addicting. Once you start watching the episodes, you want to continue to the very end. I think the extended cut cured what I had problems with. The 6 episodes felt really rushed and you just couldn’t get into the series as much. The 10 episodes shows a lot more on what went on and I love it now. For me, the viewing experience reminded me of the actually Long Way Down trip. I wanted to stretch out the days of watching it and take it in, enjoy it. Just like the guys on the trip, they felt like the trip down to South Africa was being rushed. I think fans of LWR felt having Ewan McGregor’s wife on the trip didn’t seem right or fair to Charley. I sort of agree with that it wasn’t fair for Charley. The filmmakers should have tried to surprise Charley with having his wife show up in Africa. Just didn’t feel right to me; felt like the McGregor’s family vacation. I also wouldn’t want to feel like a third wheel on a guys trip. Granted 3 months is a long time, at least have Charley’s family more involved then. Maybe Charley doesn’t want his family around that much and needs time on his own to explore? But this whole thing between Ewan and his wife on the trip for a week or two; there was definitely friction between the two guys.

To continue, I thought the countries that they visited this time around were more beautiful, more interesting and the charity work that they were involved in was more important. Not to say that one charitable thing is better than the other, but there’s no debating that people in Africa are suffering. I loved when Ewan and Charley visited all the historic graves and monuments in Sudan and Libya. It was cool seeing them visit the original Uncle Owen’s place from Star Wars in Tunisia. If I was on the trip, I think one of the highlights for me would be seeing all the gorillas or seeing the pyramids in Egypt. Sometimes you have to endure hardship to get to see beautiful things like the pyramids. It was tough to watch certain scenes like the Kenyans murdering the goat, or hearing all the horror stories involving little children being slaughtered. It makes you feel like joining the army, become Jack Bauer and go on a personal vendetta on each one of those murdering animals that did that to those kids.

Long Way Down is the type of show that makes me motivated and makes me want to get off my ass and do something. See the world, make a difference or just go from country and country and photograph what I see. Of course, you want to spend time watching this series or other documentary TV series like this one. I know after watching this or LWR, I begin to think where the group should journey to next. The Long Way Up from South America to Northern Canada? Long Way Across and go from California to China or Japan? It would be nice for them to focus on the United States more. But I guess when it comes down to it, the team are being ambassadors for UNICEF and visit countries that are having hard times. Currently Charley has a new series by himself that’s called By Any Means and he goes from Ireland to Australia by other ways of transportation, not just a motorbike. Boorman is becoming the next Michael Palin with travel documentaries.

Extras included on the DVD set include The Missing Face documentary, deleted/extended scenes, photo gallery and interactive maps. The Missing Face documentary is about Ewan and Charley’s first trip to Africa and it focuses on children that are suffering from HIV in Africa. It was really interesting and moving documentary and something you should watch after the series. It would have been cool for Ewan and Charley to come back to record some audio commentary for these episodes. I would have like to have heard what they thought as stuff was happening. Other than the documentary and the unseen footage, the extras are kind of disappointing.

If you’re a fan of Long Way Round, Race to Dakar and love travel documentaries; than be sure to watch Long Way Down. You don’t need to watch Long Way Round to watch this one, but Ind recommend it. It’s better to see what the guys did first before you see them do it again. This series is excellent and definitely worth buying on DVD. Now bring on the next series guys, everyone’s waiting!

PLUS: Be sure to check out the soundtrack featuring the title track “Long Way Down” from Stereophonics!

“The Missing Face” documentary
Unseen and Extended Footage
Interactive Route Maps
Trip Photo Gallery




Favorite Scenes: I liked when they visited the Star Wars set from the first movie, the historical places they visited in northern Africa, seeing all the wildlife like baboons and gorillas. Plus just seeing the guys having a good time were the best scenes in the series.
Rating: NR
Running Time: 510 minutes
Extras Rating:
Overall Rating: