I AM EVEL KNIEVEL shows what it takes to be a legend!

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Evel Knievel bluray Critical Blast

Being born in 1973 means icons like Bruce Lee, Jackie Robinson, Steve McQueen, Muhammad Ali, and Evel Knievel permeated my life basically from the womb until today. These men had all accomplished many of their greatest feats before I was born, or, if nothing else, at a time when I was still sucking my thumb. Yet through reruns, playground antics, highlights, and toys they became some of my greatest celebrity influences. On Spike! I have seen "I Am..." films for McQueen and Lee, but I somehow missed their recent special devoted to the daredevil some dubbed The Last Gladiator.

I AM EVEL KNIEVEL is a smartly produced, slick documentary that paints an engaging portrait of its subject. The film opens with the disastrous Caesar's Palace jump in 1967, moves back to Knievel's larcenous beginnings in Butte, Montana, spans his career, and into the sadder final years. There's lots of spectacular footage of Knievel's daredevil work that is easily accessible on Youtube, but the documentary combines this with biographical info, plus perspective offered by his wives, children, friends, modern daredevils, and celebrities like Matthew McConaughey & Michelle Rodriguez. It all comes together for more than 90-minutes of excellence.

By an odd coincidence, the night after I viewed the Blu-ray we visited a local carnival. There were two motorcycle daredevils that put on a neat show doing some spectacular jumps. My two-year-old son Nate was pretty entranced by the whole thing. The jumps were probably only a quarter the length of Knievel's longest jumps, which were in excess of 125 feet. Still, the power, beauty, and majesty was quite evident at the carnival. I couldn't even imagine what it must have been like to see Knievel's insane feats live.

One of the biggest takeaways that I got from the film was that Knievel's motorcycles were essentially just a street Harley without any shocks to speak of. When you see the crashes, and even the good landings, you can only imagine what Knievel would have been capable of with some modern technology. He was a man literally flying by the seat of his pants and creating something that had never really been tried before him. His successes, and more so, his failures turned him into a legend.

The special features aren't long but they add quite a bit to the Evel Knievel narrative. Each extra kind of extends the film's experience by delving into the inspiration of Knievel on future generations and how the legend lives on. These are a perfect addition to the main feature that gives you just enough added information without becoming boring. I know when I was in my early twenties I wanted expansive extras, but now that family life makes free time short, I appreciate solid, short extras quite a bit. These were perfect!

Whether you were a fan of Knievel growing up like me, a person that loves the extreme sports, or someone that just loves a good documentary, this is a wonderful little film about a true icon of American History.

4.0 / 5.0