Without Evel Knievel would we've been treated to such popular events as extreme sports, such shows as Jackass/The Dudeson's and would we've had superstars like Johnny Knoxville, The Crusty Demons and a range of other noteworthy names pushing the boundaries of what's expected from performers and athletes? It's an intriguing question and one that filmmaker Daniel Junge looks to answer in his by the books but insightful examination of Robert Craig Knievel's aka "Evel Knievel" rise and fall.
Produced by Jackass lynchpins Johnny Knoxville and Jeff Tremaine, Being Evel is a clear love letter from the two gentleman and in particular Knoxville who was inspired by Knievel as a child so much so that he became the household name he is today. Knoxville spends time in front of the camera speaking about Knievel's impact on his life and the admiration he has for him shines through but Junge's trump card is the amount of Knievel acquaintances he manages to round up to talk intimately about the performer who pushed himself and pushed away those he loved with a prickly, womanising demeanour that eventually drove him off the edge.
Being Evel shows a clear divide between the Evel the thousands upon thousands of crowd members saw and the one that operated behind closed doors and those who believe Evel to be a lovable American flag waver will be shocked by some of the man's behavioural tendencies from an explosive temper, unfaithfulness to his loved ones and desire to push himself no matter the physical or mental costs.
Utilising the talking heads with ample archival footage, Junge collates everything into a clearly decipherable manner but the documentary never strays to far from its TV like roots and there are moments throughout the film where the interest levels will waver but there always bought back around again with Evel's next outlandish actions never too far away.
In the age in which boundaries are being pushed daily through professional and more Youtube like ways, Evel Knievel's antics may now seem a little "so what" but there's little point in denying that his the granddaddy of the showmanship and conceptual ideas of the modern day extreme athletes and performers. Being Evel is a must watch for Knievel fans and an insightful (if overly workmanlike) event for us bystanders.
3 blinged up walking canes out of 5
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