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Keep Your Eyes Open (2002) – DVD Review

Keep Your Eyes Open DVD cover art


Directed by Tamra Davis
Featuring Mike and Tina Basich, Steve Berra, Sunny Garcia, Mat Hoffman, Andy and Bruce Irons, Eric Koston, Seth Morrison, Travis Pastrana, Mark Frank Montoya


  • Running audio commentary by Tamra Davis and Tina Basich
  • Extended interviews and deleted scenes
  • Sport sound effect gallery
  • Theatrical trailer

Released by: Artisan.
Rating: PG-13
Region: 1
Anamorphic: No.

My Advice: Rent It if you’re into the X-Treme.

[ad#longpost]We spend millions of dollars on horror movies and thrill rides to fool our hindbrains to activate that flight/fight response and get the adrenaline going. Of course the threat isn’t real since we are safe in either a restraint harness or a movie theater. We get to eat our cake and have it too. But for a few, this is not enough. They want real risk, real challenges. These men and women risk embarrassment, injury, even death, to win competitions, impress their friends, or just because they can. Keep Your Eyes Open gives us a glimpse into the world of extreme sports where these thrillseekers perform their acts of seeming insanity. We see skiers and snowboarders go down sheer cliffs, BMX bikers and motocross racers fly through the air, and surfers and skaters dance with pieces of wood. All trying to go higher, faster, and crazier.

I should preface this review by saying I haven’t seen many extreme sports videos, so I can’t compare the quality of this film to others in this genre. On its own though, I was impressed. It manages to give a sampler of the extreme sports spectrum without shortchanging any of them. You get plenty of action shots of athletes going up vertical ramps, down snowy cliffs, and across ocean waves. The viewer gets plenty of feats of daring do that are both radically cool and completely insane. The movie also looks at the athletes that do these sports. We are given a glimpse into the personalities that go all out in their chosen profession. While they are all ages and backgrounds, they all have a spiritual approach to their sport. Achieving the perfect wave or a back flip on a bike can be an almost religious experience. And while the extreme sport schedule is intense and consuming, it also gives their lives purpose and exposure to the wider world. The money doesn’t hurt either. Which is why they are willing to suffer the amazing amount of damage they must go through. One, Travis Pastrana, goes through a litany of injuries that simply will leave your mouth hanging. But it does say something about these men and women who push through the pain to get back out there. Wherever it’s good or bad, I leave to the viewer.

For the commentary, we have the director Tamra Davis and Tina Basich, who with her brother Mike, like to snowboard off cliffs. I’m an only child so I have no idea if this normal or not. Tamra talks about how much work it is for filmmakers to get into places to get that perfect shot, especially up mountains and in the sea. And of course what the viewer doesn’t see is all the times the athlete doesn’t make it and that whole shoot is so much wasted tape. Also, she talks about why she included shots of some severe wipeouts, including Mat Hoffman missing the return off a jump and suffering massive internal bleeding. It’s not for the Faces of Death crowd, but to remind people that this is dangerous work where stunts and tricks have to be done over and over to look effortless. You also get more extensive interviews with some of the athletes featured and an odd bit that gives you the sound of the sports features like skateboards hitting concrete or a motor cross bike roaring around a track. I don’t understand why this is here, but maybe for aficionados of extreme sports, this is important. Even if you’re not, this is a cool ride and worth a rent.

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