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School of Hardknocks DVD Review

Official Review

February 4th, 2004 4:13pm
Reviewed by Bryce Kuhlman
It's very refreshing to see a young magician who has a well-defined, hip character and obviously thinks a lot about his magic. In addition to learning some great material, the viewer really gets a sense of what Rodney Reyes is all about? and that's a good thing.

Reyes is the consummate "street magician." He has great chops, an engaging personality and a nice look.

There are a lot of things to talk about with this tape, so I'm going to break them down into sections:

The editing and production are obviously professional. The video has a nice mix of Rodney performing for "real" people (who can be sure?), explaining the material and talking philosophy. There are even some outtakes and bloopers for fun.

Some moments could have used a bit more preparation. Some of the philosophical talks could have used a script (or if there was one, a few more hours of memorization). There's a performance shot where Rodney needs to borrow a watch and the guy he's working with isn't wearing one. Why wasn't this edited out to be replaced with someone who did have a watch? Or else have it setup ahead of time -- this is video, after all.

While they were obviously working with professional quality cameras, I'm not sure the folks using them were always on top of things (or maybe it was the editors). There were quite a few moments where important moves and/or moments were lost. There's also a section of beautiful coin work that suffered from poor lighting.

There's also a bit of profanity from some of the audience members. I mention this only for those who might have children in the room while watching the video.

Not all of the material was explained. What was explained is definitely not beginner material. Rodney's favorite control is a (well-executed) pass, if that gives you any idea of the difficulty level.

The explanations are terse but complete. You'll be glad that you have rewind and slow-motion buttons on your remote. Among other things, he explains his pass (from Erdnase), a nice false cut and a good double-lift technique.

Then there are the philosophical talks. Rodney has some interesting theories that are worthy of consideration by all magicians. He talks about mimicking other performers to the point of exhaustion as a way to move beyond and into something that is more genuinely you. He has an interesting dramatic structure wherein he consciously uses comedy to "kill" the peak moment and (supposedly) get a longer and stronger response. I'm not convinced, but then I haven't tried it either.

I think my favorite part was his use of music during practice to setup a rhythm. Rodney works at a "hip-hop" pace which matches his favorite style of music. It's a great lesson for any magician.

Overall, I think the philosophy sections make this DVD is worth the price. If you throw a bunch of good material on top of that, you've got something really worth owning.

Product info for School of Hardknocks DVD

Author: Rodney Reyes
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $29.95
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Manufacturer's Description:

Underground magician Rodney Reyes--the Bruce Lee of close up magic--takes you on a step-by-step journey through the world of underground magic.

For the first time on DVD, you’ll experience the pure style of underground magic as you master cutting edge effects. Reyes teaches his signature effects with a strong mix of theory in this stylish, action-packed DVD. Prepare to take an inspired look at your magic as art.

• I.C.U.- A knockout face up ambitious routine.
• Glock 52- 2 chosen cards shoot out of a deck shaped like a gun, a very deadly comical effect.
• Slap City-The four of clubs is split into the two’s, then split into the aces with and outstanding kick ending that will floor your audience.
• Trifecta- This one’s too hot to tip. It’s been circling underground and is now surfacing for the first time.
• Short Stack- From the brainchild of Syd Segal comes a card effect that goes “Further Than That.”
• Ace Flourish- An eye-popping revelation of the 4 aces.
• Coining Copperfield- A first in coin magic. A coin passes through a spectator’s fingers.

• Blossom cut- an easy, visual cut.
• Another Sybil- Chris Kenner meets Brian Tudor, in this stylish cut.

Bonus Effects
• Shed A Tear: Rodney’s Torn and Restored card for the first time on DVD. A chosen card is torn into 4 pieces. In a wave of the hands the card is fully restored. Impromptu version included.

Extra Features
• “Like Magic”- Documentary: the making of the song, “Like Magic”, Starring Hip-Hop sensation Shawn Russell, outtakes, trailers and more.

AOI production is a Digital Cinema production company introducing films to the magic arts.

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