Before mentioning an undercurrent that may itch when you see the documentary “Blood Road,” know that it is an impressive, extreme adventure film with a different feel than most of the films in this realm
Rebecca Rusch, champion bicyclist, mountain biked the Ho Chi Minh Trail (“Blood Road”) in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. She and a champion Vietnamese bicyclist, Huyen Nguyen, buddied for 1200 miles in three weeks. They walked bikes through skinny, jungle segments. They carried bikes over obstacles, across boulder fields. They spent 9 hours kayaking their bikes through a cave.
Rebecca needed to bicycle to the place where her father crashed to his death during “The Vietnam War.” Huyen lost family in “The American War.”
The two women shared their considerably different yet similar enough lives. They experienced the rugged southeast Asian countryside and one poor village after the next. They witnessed so many bomb craters as well as still unexploded “ordnance” (spelled, more bombs) from a war that ended 40-plus years ago.
Any itchy feeling need not detract from a rich combination of history, travelogue, and enlightened human connection. Yes, the past is past, and healing beyond the pain of war is palpable in “Blood Road.”
But besides 58,000 people who were killed far away in the Vietnam War, more than 3,000,000 people were killed at home in the American War. And however genuine and heartfelt the quest, this is an elaborately orchestrated, sponsored vacation to an invaded land.