Review of recent skate videos by Nike, Shake Junt, and SK8MAFIA

Over my thanksgiving holiday a close relative told me she reads my blog posts except the ones dealing with skateboarding. I’m happy for her honesty and perhaps writing on such a specialty does alienate potential audiences.  So I need to decide if I’m going to write for skaters, and somehow break into that market, or be more general so that everyone that reads my blog knows what I’m talking about. The whole purpose of my blog is to write regularly and make it a routine. Coming up with ideas more than once a week can be challenge, and skateboarding is one thing I can daydream up ideas about very quickly. So here is a very skate geek out entry on three recent videos I’ve watched. All of these three videos came out at roughly the same time.

Review of Nike’s Skateboard Chronicles Volume 1., 2011

I saw people giving this the thumbs up on facebook before it was released on Itunes on December 10, 2011. But you really had to search sites for free downloads, and to me getting a virus from a shifty site was a deterrent enough to wait. The other two videos I’m going to review had the full-length video on youtube, and were easily accessible. Maybe power house companies like Nike can make sure it’s not shared illegally while the smaller companies are losing the battle.

Film wise this is high quality, they use good angles, I got the HD version on Itunes, and the picture looks very good.  Music wise I believe it is uneven. In the year 2011 is Green Day really necessary in a skateboarding part? But for the last three riders: Lewis Marnell, Wieger Van Wageningen, and Grant Taylor the music is matched perfectly. Wieger Van Wageningen, a red haired giant from Holland, skates to David Bowie that gives it a mellow energy. Grant Taylor skates to Slayer and that matches his fast gnar insane skating style.

Skating wise this is impressive. Lewis Marnell is on Almost. Rodney Mullen and Daewon Song, two legendary skaters run Almost and don’t sponsor that many, but try to sponsor the best. This is the first footage of Lewis Marnell I’ve seen, and the guy is smooth and a tech skater. Wieger Van Wageningen I never saw or heard of before, but he has good tech while popping everything. The stand out part is Grant Taylor. Two years ago his part in Alien Workshop’s ‘Mindfield,’ was good, but the guy has progressed into one of the best. I believe he got Thrasher’s skater of the year.  He is going big and fast. This part has a lot of huge pools, drops to ditches, and rails. The ender trick is about a 14-stair rail that curves sharply outward at the end. He made it even though so many things could go wrong on a rail like that.

Nike labeled this video volume 1, and it highlighted about 6 skaters. They have an army of skaters and some of the biggest names in the game.  Paul Rodriguez, Eric Koston, Theotis Beasley, and Justin Brock are some of the top pros that might be in volume 2, volume 3, volume 4 etc.  I don’t think they published how many they plan, but I think the wheels are in motion, and I think these might come out a little more quickly than other company videos because they are probably dropping more money on them.

For a long time I passionately disliked Nike, and I still kind of do. But as skateboarding sustains it’s popularity, and becomes more and more accepted, money will need to be put into it, and the big corporate companies might have the framework for that. This video is good, and it was only 5.99 on Itunes. I’m not persuaded to purchase Nike shoes quite yet, but made me think perhaps they can contribute.

Review of Shake Junt’s ‘Chicken Bone Nowison.’ 2011

Baker, Death Wish, and Shake Junt are under the same company umbrella. They are the degenerate team from my perspective. They are partiers, but they skate with an abandon and are good.  Some of them like Andrew Reynolds did the 12 steps and have been sober for years, so clumping them all together might be stereotyping them. But the company image is very much promotes revolving your life around skating and partying.  As an adult skater I do kind of worry about the kids that look up to these guys, because that is a hard life to aspire to.   But then again, I watched the whole thing straight, and then I watched it again a few times.

To my surprise, shortly after it was released I searched it on youtube and the entire video was there.  The video is over an hour, and I didn’t even know that videos that long could be on there. Also most of the individual skater’s part went up quickly too. One night I watched the thing. In the intro they have pot smoking, drinking, and even nudity.  This is somewhat like the Jack Ass stuff from a few years ago, but this company does emphasize the skating a lot more that those MTV guys. Neen Williams has the first part, and he’s had quite a bit of coverage lately. The guy is smooth, and they have a funny seventies soul song to it. A lot of the magazines mentioned his heelflips, and seeing it on film, they are very unique. He does them off of massive drops for one, but he does a shifty with it, and that tweaks his front foot forward, and makes it look super cool. But I wonder why they don’t call it heelflip shifties.  Dustin Dollin skates like a maniac, and looks drunk or hungover in every clip. And he takes some bone crushing slams. Bryan Herman and Andrew Reynolds, two of the superstars in the video, have a dual part that is smooth.

They are a lot of other individual parts, but then towards the end it’s more of a montage of random footage. One skater who had a good part, did not have his name attached to his part, but they named him ‘Sinner.’ The humor is kind of lost on me, and I simply do not know the name of that skater.  A very popular skater called ‘Lizard King’ only had a few tricks in it. According to a youtube comment, Lizard King, and others were saving footage for the upcoming Death Wish video. Overall the video was enjoyable, but perhaps a tad too long, and I’m glad it was free.

On youtube after 5 or 6 days the full-length video had over 50,000 views. To me that seems like a huge amount, and shows that there is an interest in this video. After about the 6th day that link was taken off.  Checking again today a newer post of the full-length video was at 25,000 views. So I have no idea if the company is trying to monitor it at all or not.

Review of SK8MAFIA’s full video, 2011

This video starts out with a memoriam of one of the skaters on this team, Tommy Cantrell, who died this year. I was not familiar with this skater, but the footage shows that he was really good. It’s sad to hear about people dying too young, and too many skate videos start out this way.

Some parts of the soundtrack is old seventies stuff and smooth.  Jimmy Cao’s part has ‘Soul Man’ and another classic track. Then it has some early hiphop and gangster rap tracks that do fit the style of the riders.  But the music does seem all over the place in this. But I don’t think there was any Green Day in it, so they have one point against Nike.

For me, the video was a little long, and I should give it another viewing. I checked today and the full video is still on youtube, so I’ll get another chance to watch it. From what I saw, it does seem to be a throw back to the 1990’s of trying to get the tricks, spots, on film. It doesn’t seem to be a high quality picture, the angles don’t seem to be thought much of, and it is light on the slow motion. I watched Jimmy Cao’s part individually several times. On his part and some of the other parts, there are a lot of lines. Lines are when skaters do multiple tricks in a row. In the high budget skate videos, there are less lines, because they try to get the angle filming perfect, and the skater does the trick flawless. In this SK8MAFIA video I really liked that they did lines of up to ten (or at least a lot) of tricks. If a skater sketched out a little bit, they still let him finish the line. Hopefully this will be a trend, to go back to showing lines, and more genuine skating.

In all fairness, these companies are different, and the only reason I review them in the same blog is that their videos came out at the same time. And I happened to see them while they are brand new.

Thankfully I get to skate tomorrow.

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