Road follows the lives of four Dunlop’s and their careers in road racing in Northern Ireland. Like the exceptional Senna, it delivers an experience that can be enjoyed by fans of the sport as well those who wouldn’t know the difference between a sportsbike and a cruiser. Like Senna, Road is a documentary that will draw you in emotionally and bring you into the lives of those it follows. In fact, the motorcycle racing takes a back seat to the story of Joey Dunlop, his younger brother Robert and Robert’s two sons Michael and William.
For those unfamiliar with their history, Joey Dunlpo is regarded as the best road racer ever to live, having won a total of 26 Isle of Man TT races (including three hat-tricks, his last coming in 2000 when he was 48 years of age). He was killed only weeks later in a little known race in Estonia. His younger brother Robert eventually followed Joey into the sport but his career was curtailed due to serious injury. Today, two of Robert’s children race in road racing events, both with good success.
Almost all of those interviewed were extremely close friends and relatives of Joey and Robert Dunlop (save for one brief appearance by former Formula 1 commentator Murray Walker and his asinine comment that road racers only race because of the risk of death) and you can see for many of them that the loss they suffered from the two brothers’ deaths is still with them.
Visually, Road is good without being great. Comparing it to TT3D – Closer to the Edge makes it look poor in comparison, but as I said at the outset this is a film more about the men rather then their machines. The historic footage of Joey and Robert from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s is great however and shows nothing has really changed in the sport, save for some extra hay bales and foam on the outsides of the circuit.
In the latter parts of Robert Dunlop’s life when he races with his two sons, it comes across that he almost doesn’t even ride for the enjoyment anymore but instead it has become his addiction. Even his son William remarked how he had seemingly changed in the last years of his life. The same could be said of Joey Dunlop who went racing to escape reality so to speak after the suicide of one of his closest friends – a decision which ultimately cost Joey Dunlop his life.
Road is a fascinating documentary and if this had been an actual movie, you’d give it a D- for the fanciful storyline. But these events actually happened and though many might not agree with some of the decisions these men made, they died doing what the loved and then some. You can watch the video for free here or you can purchase it through Amazon UK.