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Topic: Review: Lu chen and Zenneth Kok-Kok Hak - Close Up!Up!Up!
Message: Posted by: crestfallenLyric (Apr 26, 2010 01:06PM)
Hello everyone!

This is the first review I've ever written about anything related to magic, and I'm fortunate to be able to do it on a DVD of one of my most favorite magicians Lu Chen and his new DVD, Close Up!Up!Up!, subtitled (with some errors but not too many) by Zenneth Kok-Kok Hak.

From the back cover:
Lu Chen, currently the most celebrated magician in China, is the first Taiwanese magician who has been invited to perform at the Magic Castle, and the star of numerous magic TV shows in Taiwan, China, and Japan. This DVD was first released in 2007 for Lu Chen's Chinese National Lecture Tour, and now a worldwide release with English subtitles. Included in this DVD are some extremely visual four Aces revelations, routines with cards, coins, and ring. All of them are published here in ths DVD for the first time.

4 Aces Production 1 - Flash
4 Aces Production 2 - Flourish
4 Aces Production 3 - Mirage
4 Aces Production 4 - Ace Maker
4 Aces Production 5 - Manipulation
0% possibility (cards)
Non Coincidence (cards)
Turn Over (cards)
Don't Blink (ring)
Unpredictable (coins)
Invisible Assembly (coins)

Price: $24.95

I want to say first that Lu Chen is not only fantastic technically, but has a very friendly personality with his spectators (similar to Ammar, I would say), and also credits every trick and move he does (except for one oddly, will get to that). He is also thorough in his explanations, glancing only through the more basic sleights explaining that most of them you can ask other magicians or learn in other sources. But even then, he will explain briefly how it is done, essentially leaving no stone unturned in this DVD.

The teaching is done over the shoulder, and the subtitles are written well enough that it is easy to read. They are placed close to his hands so you can also observe carefully how Chen's hands move (beautifully, I would add).

One complaint I have is that the menu system, while it looks nice, has no way of going back if you select something. You have to constantly use your remote or computer media player to go back to root menu if you select say, Performances, but really meant to select Play All.

Difficulty: (using talkmagic.co.uk's scale of 1-5, 1 being no sleights, 5 being professionals only)
This DVD is pure sleights , and you will need to be proficient in basics because there are techniques on here such as double breaks, triple lifts and triple counts, and triple coin palming where you have to release coins individually. It definitely has some tricks that are easier (around a 3, some sleights are used) and gets to about a 4 using advanced sleights. There's nothing that a lot of practice won't help you with, but practice is something you'll need especially for some of the ace productions and coin tricks.

Individual Tricks:

1) 4 Aces Production 1 - Flash
This is the easiest of the ace productions but still requires practice because of the timing and retaining of cards that is required. However, it is visual, and the end product is a great sudden revelation.

2) 4 Aces Production 2 - Flourish
This is my favorite one. In my opinion, it is the third hardest ace production on the DVD. It has a great retention-of-vision of an indifferent card right before the sudden revelation. The Z-cut used in the advertisement is part of this production and actually adds a nice (as the title suggests) flourish.

3) 4 Aces Production 3 - Mirage
This is a really great one but if you asked me, this is the hardest production of them all. You need to have good, smooth steals, palming, and good misdirection to pull this off, but I feel that even after a few hours of practice I am slowly seeing how Lu Chen does things.

4) 4 Aces Production 4 - Ace Maker
This is a comical one and not too hard, but the problem is that you need to be using the original Bicycle box design, and a red deck. There is some set-up and construction, but it really is cool when you watch it on the video. In my opinion this is less practical than the others but the next time I pick up some original red Bikes, I might try this out.

This uses a move that Lu Chen forgets to credit - the Benzais spinout move, seen in Malone meets Marlo DVD's and Bullets after Dark by John Bannon. A minor gripe, but I figured I'd put it out there.

5) 4 Aces Production 5 - Manipulation
If you ever done anything like Lee Ascher's Thunderbird or Oz Pearlman's Starry Eyed Surprise, this is similar, but uses a pattern of movements that are slightly easier and just as visual. This is the second hardest one because I am not comfortable with the g******'s c** and making it so well hidden from the audience. But if you have done these visual productions listed before, you'll probably be okay with this.

6) 0% Possibility (cards)
This is a fun and fairly easy trick that can be done in any card routine and one I've learned to add easily in my routine. It's a lot like a Nick Trost trick done with a full deck, and Lu Chen gives proper credit to him and Japanese magician Masawa Natsukawa for doing it with an ESP deck. A similar effect is taught on Osterlind's Easy to Master Mental Miracles. Basically, if the person thinks a pair of cards will match, they will, and if they think it won't match, it won't. However, Lu Chen's way of "marking" which spectator thought the cards would match and which wouldn't is a nice addition.

7) Non Coincidence (cards)
This is a harder trick but has 4 climaxes which I think just really add to each other. If you ever listen to Sankey or Bannon about the structure and clarity of constructing a trick, I think this is good example of that; each revelation of two revealed cards is clear and builds superbly on one another, with a cool 4 of a kind ending, and includes a "perfect count cut" in the middle of it. You will have to misdirect and use several sleights while counting cards quickly, but it is not too hard if you have basic card background.

8) Turn Over (cards)
The hardest of the three card tricks using 4 aces and a selected card. You will make the aces turn over and turn up one at a time, with a surprise after you turn over 3 of the 4 aces. You will steal, count cards using triples as singles, and force both mentally and with the cards. Practice, lol.

9) Don't Blink (ring)
I believe Lu Chen has performed this on TV, or something like it. Anyways, it's a cute trick where you vanish a ring completely and cleanly, but you shouldn't borrow the ring (I can't really say more, trust me). It can actually accompany any kind of rattle box routine(I use it with Mikame MC boxes) or even Crystal Cleaver! You can use your own creativity to figure out how to reveal the ring after it's vanished, not that bad. For many of you this might not be the most practical trick but you can use your noggin and figure something out if you want to add it.

10) Unpredictable (coins)
This is his version of the one coin routine with a cool way of revealing 4 coins in the end. You need to have a solid classic, and by solid I mean you can vanish, retain, false take/put, and shuttle pass while you triple classic.

11) Invisible Assembly (coins)
This is a really cool assembly that isn't as hard as Ponta the Smith's assemblies. You will have to practice and have a basic foundation of coin knowledge, but as I said in the intro, even the basic sleights Lu Chen will go through so you know what's going on. There's an added one-coin routine towards the end of this, and you learn a sleight that Lu Chen invented called the Inertia Slide. In fact, at the very end, he shows you another cool to assemble coins using just that one sleight, and it's not particularly hard. Really fun and flexible assembly.

Well, that's my review! In summary:
Pros: Great teaching, Lu Chen is a very friendly guy with a great personality, detailed instructions
Cons: sleight techniques vary greatly in difficulty throughout tricks, menu system needs a way to go back

My thoughts: worth every penny. I have always wanted to meet Lu Chen in person, and now that I have this DVD I almost feel like I have!

If you have any questions, feel free to ask! I tried my best to limit any kind of exposure while still talking about the magic.
Message: Posted by: ReviewerMaster (Apr 29, 2010 02:51PM)
He's a great performer. The stuff on the DVD is less than impressive though. Still like him as a performer.
Message: Posted by: Miraclemakers (May 1, 2010 04:12AM)
Thank you for sharing...Great review....
Message: Posted by: Powermagic (Jan 15, 2012 05:56PM)
I remember J McBride teacing in his lectures a one coint to five that looked very similar but was not that hard to do. Does anyone knwo what that was called and it was written up?