Jay Sankey Revolutionary Card Magic DVD[ Review by Drey January 2006 ]
Jay Sankey Revolutionary Card Magic SpeedSpeed 4 stars
Jay Sankey Revolutionary Card Magic Communication QualityCommunication 4 stars
Jay Sankey Revolutionary Card Magic AppearanceAs far as magic videos go, 3/5, as far as a professional production goes, I'd say 2/5.
Appearance 3 stars
Jay Sankey Revolutionary Card Magic Difficulty of Tricks TaughtThese vary a lot from trick to trick, most aren't that difficult, but require the routining, timing and most of all, the set up to make them more problematic.
Difficulty 3 stars
Jay Sankey Revolutionary Card Magic Teaching QualityTeaching 4 stars
Jay Sankey Revolutionary Card Magic QuantityQuanity 5 stars
Jay Sankey Revolutionary Card Magic PricePrice 4 stars
More detailed reviewI recently watched Jay Sankey's "Revolutionary Card Magic" DVD set and figured I'd give some feedback on it.
This is the second DVD set I've purchased from Mr. Sankey, and I must say, he is an amusing fellow, with frequent little pieces that get a laugh. He is also very much a magician who goes for (at least in my experience) good, practical and effective material for the most part.
One thing you'll notice if you watch this DVD is a lot of the material isn't really new so much as it's reworked, with different handlings, different presentational hooks, though he does seem to have some different material to go along with it, so without further ado, I'll attempt to cover the material.
Effects in order of the box:
Assault with a Deadly Weapon - What can I say, this is a great effect, there's simply no denying that, but at the same time I can't help but point out that it is just one version of the very old card to impossible location plot, in this case, a transposition into a salt shaker. Again, I cannot stress enough that it's a fantastic effect, the card to impossible location plot, is in my view within the top 10 or 20 effects that exist within card magic, depending on handling, the location etc. In this case you have the nice advantage of the card in question being marked by ripping off a corner, which helps to make the effect that much stronger (again, nothing new, but still nice). It does require some set up, like most other such plots do, and like most of the plots on this DVD do. What I really liked about this were some ideas that just really helped to streamline the handling and make it in many regards far cleaner than most similar routines. Though he introduces most of these ideas earlier on in other effects, they still help to really enhance the effect in my view and are points I'll definitely incorporate into some of my own handlings.
Tracking Device - Any magician who watches this should be able to figure out how it's performed almost immediately...at least in principle, the subtleties might be another matter. The basic plot tends to be old, find a spectator's card in some unusual manner, though the manner in which it is done seems fairly unique and it tends to make the effect pretty powerful. Jay has worked through the handling so it's probably as good to close to as good as you're going to find. Again, there is some set up, but otherwise he covers the subtleties beautifully, I particularly liked how he performed the effect without needing a duplicate card, making the whole process very clean. It can also be repeated almost immediately for another group.
Missing Evidence - I have to say, I really like this effect, it isn't really a torn and restored card, but at the same time it is and the details make it very powerful. It requires some set up, but the economy and subtleties in handling are beautiful. I'd say it's definitely a unique take on a classic trick. Naturally, a torn and restored card is another one of those extremely powerful pieces of magic and this is definitely a creative approach to the plot.
Threadbare Rise - Cards rising, that's old, and Jay's approach seems to be new. It's nice, but I don't know how much I prefer it to numerous other methods since, in many respects it isn't as flexible as others and still requires set up, in this case a gimmick you can make. Interesting idea, but I didn't feel it was spectacular, especially since the effect isn't that great.
Blaze of Glory - A prediction effect with a twist. In my opinion it isn't one of the strongest effects on the DVD, nor is it terribly special or difficult, again, you're likely to figure it out right away. It doesn't really require set up, but it requires you have some flash paper for the full impact of the trick. I probably wouldn't use it myself, but Jay gives some interesting thoughts on the subject of flash paper and using fire to enhance an effect, which is basically what occurs here.
Uberchange - I have to admit, when I read about this effect it was probably my biggest influence in buying the DVD. This is an effect I've been working on in my personal routines, in one routine in particular, for quite a long time and so I was interested in knowing what Jay's method was. I have to admit, I didn't really like his presentation, it wasn't really what I was going for, to me it wasn't visual enough. That having been said, I loved the method, I thought it was genius and I really liked how clean he ended when he handed out the changed card. I've seen a lot of material for trying to duplicate or transpose signatures etc. But this was definitely a new method to me, and as far as I know to the magic community. Jay says you are really limited in what cards you can use, I don't actually agree, the trick is more flexible than he makes it out to be, though it was interesting to hear his comments. The principle at least certainly qualifies for the title, uberchange.
Fort Knox - What can I say, this is a fantastic effect. For those who are familiar with Paperclipped, one of Jay's most popular routines this has much in common, at least in principle and will inevitably be compared to it. In fact Jay himself comments on the similarities and differences, as well as addressing the question "is it better?" It becomes a classic question of whether one effect is really better than another, this is certainly a different technique, in many regards a substitute technique and Jay's got most of the subtleties worked out. It does require a minor bit of set up, but very little given the quality of the effect you're achieving. There are a few little things I'd like to work on. Though Jay has thought out the subtleties very well and for this precise effect they are fantastic, I'd personally like to refine the method a little.
In Captivity - This is the classic Here then There plot. Pretty much any magician is familiar with it, just like almost every magician is familiar with the Invisible Deck. And just like Jay drastically improved the Invisible Deck by creating "X", he has in my mind really taken Here then There to the next level with "In Captivity". Here then There is a mind blowing and incredibly simple effect, it's probably one of the strongest and simplest effects and thus very hard to improve upon. I know I've personally worked with signed card versions of one type or another, I've seen different presentations etc. and none ever really improved on the original effect in how simply powerful it was, but I'd have to say this actually does and it's definitely an idea I'll keep in mind. Jay covers all the finer little points and it definitely gives me some ideas and inspiration for future techniques.
Nosferatu - Startlingly simple, and very different in terms of the presentation and consequent reactions you're going to get from it. Jay discusses how this is a broader concept of an effect and I really have to agree. I suspect you'll find it will take time for the reaction of this one to truly set in, but it's a great routine and oh so simple.
Chain Gang - What can I say, the mere concept and eccentricity of this effect appeal to me intensely. It also introduces a method that I really like, though not entirely new, it was presented well and really works here probably better than any other place I've seen it, allowing you to end totally clean. It's just a fantastic and startling effect, that has a weirdness people won't soon forget.
Cardivores - Cannibal cards is another one of those classic routines, and honestly, I'm not sure it's my favorite version. It requires some undesired extras, but as Jay challenges "try doing a version of this that is as clean and as effective without them", and I have to agree, I can't actually think of a method as far as that goes. I figured it out just watching it and that's part of what concerns me about the routine, and why I didn't initially think of it as the ideal version of this classic plot. However, after listening to Jay discuss it I found my opinion of it improving. It's definitely a nice and relatively easy handling, and you end totally clean. It doesn't have the twist that say Guy Hollingworth's version has, but then again, it has a different sort of impact, perhaps a better one, I'm not really sure. I'll definitely play around with the handling a bit, because the classic effect is good and there are a lot of desirable features about the handling...I'm not sure, it might be something that's even better as a part of a routine thus making some of my concerns less of a concern.
Papercut - This combines numerous elements of other ideas in it and I have to say, once you hear him explain it, you have to love it, it's just a great trick. Normally I don't like any card to mouth routines and this avoids those pitfalls (it isn't really a card to mouth routine). It works well as a prediction and as a torn and restored card. It's just an all round great routine that Jay explains quite well.
There were a few other routines he taught whose names mostly slip my mind, but I'll cover them as I recall.
Sanity vs. insanity - This is a triumph plot, which has to be one of the best plots in card magic. The problem with it, I find, is generally that you get either the same stale presentation, or you get twists that require set up or addition cards, or gimmicks etc. This suffers from none of those problems. It has a great presentation, one that seems unique and I really love. It is totally impromptu, and it gives sort of a second climax without needing to worry about anything extra. All round it's just a great technique and in my view one of the best takes on the Dai Vernon original. My only complaint is the shuffle he uses, while it makes some sense the way he is doing it, and I've seen it used in many triumph performances, I don't like it, I never have since the first time I saw it, because fundamentally I think it's too obvious, too repeatable. It works well here, but I think I'd like to clean it up a bit for my own use.
Practice Deck - This is one of the first routines, actually, I believe it is the first routine that Jay covers and it is a real attention grabber in my view. He has all the little details nailed down so the illusion is perfect and the effect is powerful. I don't think the method itself is too elegant to be honest with you, though the execution and subtleties definitely are. It is, like a lot of the material Jay uses, something that works well for as he calls it, "the working professional". Since I don't fall into that category I find it unlikely that I'd personally use it, actually, that's the case for a lot of these tricks, they are fine if you can plan them out as a part of a routine when you know you'll be performing, but it's annoying to carry around gimmicks or set ups if you never know when you'll be performing. So great routine, fantastic effect, perhaps not so practical for most people.
Signed card transpo - This is just a slightly different variation of an old idea I and many others have played with. He has some nice ideas that could be applied elsewhere and the effect is good, added to which it is almost totally impromptu, but it isn't anything special when compare with the competition.
Porus - This is a cool visual illusion. The method is fairly obvious when you watch it, but Jay's execution is brilliant! The retention of vision he gives when he performs it is unbelievable, and it's really good to get the little pointers he gives on what is fundamentally a simple illusion. As usual, it requires some set up.
Intuition Poker - I don't like this trick, I don't think the climax is logical and I don't particularly think the earlier phases are particularly impactful, added to which it was the one effect Jay didn't really perform well. That having been said, listening to Jay describe how he performs it and how he gets reactions from it is enlightening and sheds light on the potential use of the effect. I'd say mainly, it requires exceptional timing and misdirection if you want to do it well.
Torn and restored signed card - What can I say, back to the Torn and Restored card, the classic and superb routine, added to which it's a signed card. Jay toutes this as some fantastic technique, personally I have to disagree. I like his method for getting the duplicate signature (or initials in this case), it's interesting and he goes into some important details on the subtleties of the method, but to me it just doesn't compare with something like a piece by piece restoration ala Hollingworth's routine or Garcia's routine. To be fair, it's also considerably simpler, though in my view Jay needs to work on his performance here slightly, as his Erdnase change isn't good, and is inconsistent with his general action. As such, if you intend to use and perform this routine, I suggest you refine that part of the handling somewhat to make the transformation less contrived and more magical.
Leech - Jay has some amusing presentation during the teaching phase of this routine. I don't really like it a lot, but he makes some interesting points where it's concerned. Definitely not one of the stronger effects on the DVD in my opinion, it nevertheless introduces a few subtleties that might be useful for you in other applications.
So, those are the effects, lots of good material, a bit of not so good material, then again, it's a good value. Which is another point, I heard some people complaining about the price elsewhere, they must be on drugs, the price is minimal for a fantastic value, I think it cost me $54 or something and it is worth every penny.
As for the camera work, I've never really been fond of the camera work in Jay's material from what I've seen, often times the focus is one place when you want it someplace else (this is mostly in terms of presentation, the teaching tends to be much better). There really isn't anything refined or exceptional in this regard, no alternate camera angles, no fancy editing, it tends to be a bit more amateurish in this regard.
When it comes to the presentation there are a few areas of evaluation. One complaint I've always heard and always had, is that when Jay performs the effects initially he doesn't do so for a live audience so you can't see how it plays, and I think this is to his detriment. He also has a very unique performance style, which isn't bad, in fact I often enjoy it quite a lot as it tends to be comic, but it also isn't my style and thus I find you often need to adapt the routines to fit your individual approach, meaning, at least for me, I'm more likely to take the principles than the effects with me from the DVDs. Then there's his teaching, which I must say, is excellent, it's basic, it's raw, but it's very real. You'll find Jay generally isn't concerned about many of the little points that you might sit working on for days. For example, he uses a neck tie second deal quite a lot, and it flies perfectly with audiences, which is fine. In point of fact it's a terrible second deal, but it works well for what he needs it to do, which is the point. He teaches you a lot of things that are much more crucial to the reaction, rather than the execution, things like timing, misdirection, little psychological details etc. that are extremely beneficial. One thing that might be nice is to see him piece it all together into a routine.
The final point I can think of involves more of the material, namely the sleights etc. What can I say, there are some great sleights in there, but very little new, so if you don't know the material in advance it's an excellent resource, if you're a veteran card magician you aren't likely to garner much from the description of sleights.
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