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Palms of Steel 5: Pirates of the Rising Tide Review

Official Review

February 15th, 2011 10:04am
Reviewed by James Sanden
I think there are 2 types of “coin guys” in the world, “cutting edge” and “classic.” By cutting edge I mean that the methods they use are innovative, off beat and often subtle. Examples of cutting edge coin men are Homer Liwag, Eric Jones and Ponta the Smith. Classic coin guys are characterized by traditional methods and approaches to coin work. The perfect example of the classic coin man is David Roth.

(For the record, I’m not saying one is better than the other. But I think the purchaser should be informed going in.)

I regard Curtis Kam as a “classic” coin magician. In his most current release, “Palms of Steel 5,” Mr. Kam performs and explains 5 effects using sleight of hand. The effects include a 3 coin routine, a jumbo coin routine, a standing coins through table, a version of the Hanging Coins, and a copper/silver/flurry routine. The DVD also includes a performance and explanation of a Reed McClintock routine, based on a previously released routine of Mr. Kam’s.

What I liked about this DVD is that these routines are very much “real world.” They are modular and can be done standing and in very unforgiving conditions, a situation many professional magicians constantly find themselves in. Mr. Kam also offers some genuinely valuable lessons from the trenches, including some astute observations about how people react to and think about the appearance of a jumbo coin, as well as some ideas on how to effectively use sleight of hand in a restaurant environment. The material is also visual, which can go a long way towards establishing credibility in a walk around or restaurant gig. Mr. Kam is also clearly well read and thinks deeply about his material. (The exception in my opinion is “Laser Coins,” a routine Mr. Kam admits is only appropriate in a formal close up performance. Even so, I felt the handling was cumbersome and unconvincing. I think most audiences, while unable to do it themselves, know what’s happening with the coins through the routine. They might appreciate the skill involved, but it wouldn’t occur as “magic.”)

The drawback to this DVD is that none of this material is particularly new or different. I’m a believer that a magic product shouldn’t be released unless it offers something new or improved in method, effect or presentation. And unfortunately, the effects on this DVD are not new; for the most part the methods are standard; and nothing ground breaking is offered in the way of presentation. Frankly, I imagine it would be hard to fulfill on these criteria after having already released 4 DVD’s of coin magic. What surprised me is that Mr. Kam introduces this DVD by saying the material it contains is “unique” and of high quality. While I think the methods are effective, they simply aren’t innovative or ground breaking.

On a separate note, I think it’s unacceptable that at several points you can actually hear hidden coins (either clinking against a flashlight or Mr. Kam’s finger ring.) In performance this destroys any suspension of disbelief. This occurs in 3 of the 5 routines presented. This is beyond ridiculous, particularly in the case where the coin is clinking against a finger ring that plays no role in the effect. In that situation, the ring should be removed. Not doing so insults the audience or demonstrates a lack of connection to their experience. When coins that shouldn’t be there make noise it shows an amateurish approach.

On a second separate note, I feel the need to comment on the 6th effect included in this routine, since it was both taught by and developed by someone other than Mr. Kam, specifically Reed McClintock. Mr. McClintock has taken a coins to silk routine of Mr. Kam’s and altered it so that 3 different coins are used. While this is an interesting idea, the routine is, frankly, bad. It’s confusing, move-heavy, the sleight of hand is cramped, the plot is determined by the method, the presentation is insulting at points and the blocking is heavy handed. I was singularly unimpressed. To make matters worse, during the explanation Mr. McClintock rambled, was clearly unrehearsed and at one point claims a particular item isn’t necessary, despite the fact that, to do the routine as described, you absolutely need that item. In my opinion this routine should not have been included on this DVD as it does not match the quality of effect or explanation seen in the other items offered.

While there are some good routines on this DVD, if you are a nominally informed coin magician, little of the material will be eye opening. And yes, there are some great real world, practical tips and ideas, but they are by no means the bulk of its contents. So should you buy this DVD? If you are on a budget and trying to spend your magic dollar carefully, I don’t think so. If you are an experienced coin magician, you already know most of the ideas presented, and if you are a beginner, there are more complete resources you could buy that contain a lot more material (if you don’t have Bobo’s Modern Coin Magic, you should start there.) If you like to collect information on coin magic, there are some good ideas and tips contained on this DVD, but I wouldn’t consider it to be the best bang for your buck.

Available at your favorite Murphy’s Magic dealer

Product info for Palms of Steel 5: Pirates of the Rising Tide

Author: Kam, Curtis
Publisher: The Magic Bakery - Steve Brooks
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $35.00
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Manufacturer's Description:

Curtis Kam's Palms of Steel 5: Pirates of the Rising Tide

Firing a shot across the bow of conventional coin magic, Curtis "Captain Morgan" Kam leads a crew of cutthroat coin effects in a broadside attack on the overworked classics. Join him as he rides the tide of bold new magic that shows no mercy and takes no prisoners. Coins Through the Table, Flurry, Hanging Coins, Copper/Silver Transpo, Coins Across-prepare to be boarded!

Laser Coins: Three coins vanish as they become suspended in a beam of light. When the light's turned off, they fall from the sky. Finally, a new and compelling effect in coin magic. The edge grip technology used here is twenty years beyond what you're doing now. Plus there's a moment where you actually show the coins to the audience, but they just can't see them. That will make you smile, which is good, because the rest of the moves will make you cry. Man up to the miracle, lads.

Standing Coins Thru Table: A swashbuckler's handling that allows you to pull up broadside to a table and push three coins right through it. No gaffs, no wax, no extras, no counting or fooling around. Each penetration is better than the last and everything builds to a surprise ending.

Copper/Silver Flurry: Only a pirate would cross the Flurry, the classic one-coin routine from Davey Roth's locker, with the copper/silver transposition. Now, instead of ending the Flurry like everyone else, you can end with a memorable miracle in the spectator's hands.

Table Hopper's Jumbo: Straight from the Captain's working repertoire, a lesson in how and when to produce a jumbo coin, and more importantly, what to do with it once you have.

Table Hopper's Trio: Mindless repetition walks the plank in this, the first routine to embrace the pirate's love of anarchy. Free your coins from the tyranny of having to all do the same thing.

BONUS: International Silk & Silver (Reed McClintock) Who says pirates can't be givers? A ruthless revision of Dai Vernon's classic, and it's yours just because we like the cut of your jib.

Running Time Approximately: 1 hr 21 min

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