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Movie review: 'Go Grandriders' are (senior) rebels with a cause

Tian-Hao Hua's sweet documentary follows a group of elderly scooter riders on a 730-mile trip around Taiwan.

August 22, 2013|By Inkoo Kang
  • A still from Tian-Hao Hua's documentary, "Go Grandriders."
A still from Tian-Hao Hua's documentary, "Go Grandriders." (Merry-Go Round Media Inc )

"I feel like I'm 50 again," exclaims a giddy octogenarian biker in "Go Grandriders," a sweet, slight documentary chronicling the two-week, 730-mile journey by scooter a handful of adventure-seeking seniors take around the perimeter of Taiwan.

With an average age of 81, the 17 riders count among them a calligraphy master, a former kamikaze-pilot instructor, a pastor and a housewife. The trip is bumpy and eventful: On the first day alone, the group's sprightly captain succumbs to an ulcer and another senior dozes off at the wheel. "I'll just bite my tongue to stay awake," he says, winking. But Tian-Hao Hua's documentary distinguishes itself not with false suspense but tremendous poignancy and humor, much of which come from the riders' varied histories and motivations for revving up their bikes.

For one couple, the ride is a long-belated honeymoon, while for a quartet of former World War II soldiers, it's a chance to broker peace among former enemies.

Eventually, the film's scattered focus slows down its narrative momentum, which dissipates well before an extended epilogue stuffed with platitudes. But the vision of the elderly bikers in matching red polo shirts and egg-white helmets battling rain, falling rocks and high blood pressure lingers. Hardly the traditional picture of insurrection, the Grandriders are nonetheless rebels with a cause: "We can finally live for ourselves now."


'Go Grandriders'

MPAA rating: None; in Mandarin and Taiwanese with English subtitle

Running time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Playing: At AMC Atlantic Times Square 14, Monterey Park


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