Aaron Chase is best known as a rider, but he’s also a film-maker. He’s contributed his camera and editing skills to the Chain Reaction series and moved on to directing a full film with Killing Time. Counterparts is his latest effort, and as you’d imagine it’s full of really quite impressive stuff.
The format is fairly conventional, with two big slabs of rider segments sandwiching a road-trip bit in the middle. There are plenty of big names doing their thing here. Eric Porter (flare on dirt, which we had to rewind and watch several times), John Jesme, a big chunk of Darren Berrecloth (plenty of variety here – big bike hucking, hardtail stuff, BMX, snowmobiles…), Paul Basagoitia (highlight: backflip/tailwhip), Cameron McCaul, Jeff Lenosky, Randy Spangler. The Brits get a look-in, too, with short bursts of UK trials aces Eddie Tongue and Chris Akrigg.
Of course, with this being Aaron Chase’s video, there’s a big chunk of the man himself in it. Chase obviously doesn’t mind people seeing him crash – there’s a whole crash segment with just him in it. But there’s a “proper” Chase segment too, including a mental backflip-to-fakie-rollback thing that again bore repeated viewing. It’s also refreshing to see some new (to us) names in a fairly high-profile video – Chase hangs out with some very handy riders who haven’t quite become famous yet. We certainly expect to see more of George Ryan in the future.
The actual filming is of variable quality, but it varies from pretty good upwards so that’s OK. It’s clear that the making of Counterparts was largely the gathering together of lots of stuff that people had happened to film over quite a long period of time, rather than being all specific shoots just for the film in the style of things like the New World Disorder series. That inevitably means a bit of a mish-mash of styles and film stock – some of it looks like 16mm film, some of it is various grades of DV camera and there are a couple of bits that appear to have been shot on a clockwork cine camera, although that might be a video effect. It’s to the credit of the editing that it all manages to hang together so effectively. We could live without the interludes of random drunkenness and people doing silly things without bikes, but that might just be us being sensible old farts.
The soundtrack is the usual punk/thrash/hip-hop melange and, to be honest, we just stopped hearing it after a while in the same way that you forget you’re reading subtitles on foreign films. There’s a bonus section on the DVD that doesn’t appear to contain anything desperately essential, but there are a few nice snippets.
Good mix of new and well-known names, plenty of variety, some killer riding
Feels a little random in places, stupidity wears thin, so-so soundtrack
Counterparts is certainly a valuable addition to the MTB film canon. It’s not as polished as the big-budget stuff but it’s well put together, has enough great bits to keep you entertained and doesn’t outstay its welcome. We enjoyed it, and that’s what counts.