Cyclist Bryan Chang takes a moment in his epic journey to One Mile Above.
ONE MILE ABOVE(Du Jiayi). 89 minutes. Subtitled. Opens Friday (June 7). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NNN
One Mile Above is the spoileriffic North American title of the Chinese feature Kora. The original title refers to a Buddhist spiritual journey undertaken by the young Taiwanese protagonist, Shuhou (Bryan Chang), after his brother's death, while the English-language title refers to the mile-high Tibetan destination of his epic bike ride from mainland China.
The new name is actually more appropriate, since first-time director Du Jiayi is more comfortable helming the physical side of a quest filled with terrifying rock-face falls and hallucinatory scenes of mountain madness afflicting the unprepared city boy.
When the adventure gives way to reflective meetings with high-altitude locals - encounters meant to be packed with spiritual growth and political awakening - things get a little sentimental.
Fortunately, the beauty of a road movie is that these episodes are fleeting, leaving Du to focus on the gorgeously constructed mountain bike set pieces in his sweaty-palm athletic production.