Every year there are a few videos we would consider a "must-have". Usually, whatever Bump Films puts out makes that list, and FREE4ALL has definitely done that this year.
FREE4ALL follows the standard Bump Films concept of filming the top riders doing the tricks they are currently doing, and filming it professionally and creatively. Shot in Florida, Ohio, and at Lake San Vicente in California FREE4ALL has a nice combination of wakeboarding, sliding, and wakeskating.
The cinematography in FREE4ALL is outstanding. Shot all in 16mm film, the quality is tremendous and the camera angles are impressive. New to the wakeboarding video world, is a follow cam that is placed high up and behind the rider by having the cameraman in a tube with the camera on the end of a pole. The camera has a wide lens on it so you can see the riders approach to the wake, see them closeup in mid-trick, then see them land and edge back out. A very cool perspective.
FREE4ALL is a solid length of about 40 minutes, and when you add in the DVD bonus features you have plenty of wakeboarding footage to get your fix.
The music in FREE4ALL is mainly rap, and mainly from Battle Axe Records. The riders were allowed to pick their own songs out a group of available ones, so each rider chose something to their liking. Artists include Swollen Members, Pep Love, Abstract Rude, Prevail & Moka, Kottenmouth Kings, LMNO, Nextmen & Grap Luva, Little T and One Track Mike, and Ozzy Ozbourne.
The riding in FREE4ALL is a good representation of the latest and greatest in wakeboarding and wakeskating. As Mark Bame points out in the directory's commentary audio track on the DVD, he lets each rider see their raw footage and pick the tricks they want in their segments. This gives the riders an even better opportunity to express themselves and show the tricks they want instead of showing what a video producer thinks is cool.
Most videos with Parks have him near the end, but Parks wanted to start off FREE4ALL in the lead spot to get things going. He's really taken off-axis backside spins to a new level, and starts it off with a huge Indy Nosebone Backside 180 way out into the flats, and also does a toeside off-axis 180 that starts at a Batwing that's super-boned. Parks does an array of other inverts and spins, pulls off his signature Double Half-Cab Roll, and even does a "Baller" on a flat bar. A "Baller" is a new trick that's a backside 360 with a handle-pass between your legs, just to make things more difficult!
Danny Harf has established himself as one of the new leaders of style, and his segment shows that off with some stylish hard spins like a Method Backside 180 off the double up, and a toeside Frontside 360 with a Stalefish grab making it require an extra handle pass. He also does some of his signature tricks like the toeside off-axis 360 that goes to a 540 with a rewind, and a he does the Blind Pete off the wake only for the first time on video. Another highlight is seeing him come up a rail with a slight incline doing a backside lipslide, then there is a gap to a rail going back down. When he pops up to clear the gap he gets pulled so he lands on his back coming down the rail and slams his head. This is all shot from a follow-cam so you get to see it up close and personal. He then sticks the trick showing us that he didn't give it up after the nasty wreck.
The head coach at the Wakeboard Camp had a shorter section due to a torn knee, but does a nice job sessioning the slider park he helped build at the Wakeboard Camp. He also does a smooth Method Crow Mobe shot from the tube, and a nice Tantrum to Blind.
At the young age of 16 Tim Kovacich has a bright future in wakeskating since he's already blowing minds. His section starts with some hard bails on a shallow water rail where starts in the water right by it. After a few wrecks, he sticks a smooth frontside boardslide to shuvit 180 off. Some of his jib highlights are a high ollie into a frontside boardslide on a rail, a frontside boardslide to frontside 180 off (harder than you'd think), a frontside boardslide to backside 180 out, and a few very painful looking wrecks where he splits the rail with his legs. Kovacich is also handy without the rails, as he does a kickflip, a very high pop shuvit, 360 shuvit, and switch lipslide on the wake to switch shuvit out.
JD Webb is another young ripper who's starting to step it up to the level of the big name pros. JD's section has some nice "raised follow cam" footage and he doesn't disappoint with some huge 540s and a Dum Dum. He also hits the sliders like a champ, and takes on a huge slider on the wakeskate successfully after getting rocked on it.
Chad Sharpe dominates the obstacles as usual, but also puts together some nice wake-to-wake footage including a toeside off-axis 720, big handle-pass KGB, a Method Crow Mobe, and a huge Melan poke 360.
We move to Ohio for the Struharik footage, and see the most creative obstacles in the movie. Struharik builds a land gap setup using a tractor where there is a kicker on one part of the shore, that kicks you over a 25 foot gap onto a landing ramp. He kills it with some big grabs and 360s. There is also a nice step up to a John boat, and some bench slides he does on a bench on the shore. Struharik's wake highlights consist of a Nose Grab Crow Mobe 540 off the double up, an Osmosis 540, and a big double grab 360.
Shane's segment features a lot of nice spinning including some gigantic heelside off-axis 360s, a backside 540, heelside 720 off the wake, and a wake to wake "Baller" which is the backside 360 with a handle pass between the legs. Shane also suprised us with a switch heelside frontside 540. We haven't seen much, if any, switch riding from Shane in the past.
Grubb has been out in the front of wakeskating and he continues to push it in FREE4ALL. He starts out his segment with a gigantic Half Cab off a big kicker at OWC on the cable. Other highlights include a backside boardslide to backside lipslide to shuvit out on a flat bar, a toeside wake to wake indy shuvit, wake to wake body varial, heelside wake to wake shuvit, a varial shuvit 180, 360 shuvit, big one foot air, wake to wake backside 180, and an almost landed wake to wake kickflip.
The ending of FREE4ALL is saved for the U-Haul Slider segment. Basically, the U-Haul slider is the biggest stunt performed on a wakeboard. Kyle Schmidt and Mark Bame built this contraption which consisted of a big U-Haul truck parked in between two lakes, with an incline and decline rail up each way. The top of the U-Haul is probably 30 feet off the water, so those rails are a long way to go up and down. On top of the U-Haul is a pool off water to allow the riders to ride on top of it. I'll let you watch the movie to see what happens, but there are some entertaining wrecks and some impressive slides. We were a bit disappointed that noboby wore helmets while hitting this contraption, as it was obviously quite dangerous. Kids, be smarter than the pros and wear a helmet anytime you hit an obstacle.
The DVD extras on FREE4ALL consist of a director's audio track to get the scoop on stories about filming, trailers for the Faction and FREE4ALL, the making of the U-Haul slider feature, and a 5-minute bonus segment of more riding clips from all the riders. The director's commentary and making of the U-Haul slider were both very interesting to get the story behind everything. Definitely get the DVD if you have a DVD player.
FREE4ALL has a great mix of wakeboarding, sliding, and wakeskating, is shot well, and is edited well. Throw in some nice DVD bonus features and the U-Haul stunt and you have a must-have video. Our only complaint was the mostly rap soundtrack (we like rap, but we like a mix), and the over exposure of the Wakeboard Camp sliders in everyone's section. For these reasons we give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
For more information or to purchase FREE4ALL, check out BumpFilms.com.