Bustin' Down The Door (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner03/09/2009

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 96 mins

Bustin' Down The Door is impressively shot and well researched, but the narration is extremely dull and the film occasionally feels like a ten minute anecdote stretched out to feature length.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jeremy Gosch, Bustin' Down The Door is the latest in a wave of surfing documentaries that have resulted from the huge splash made by Stacy Peralta's brilliant 2004 film, Riding Giants. It tells the story of Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew, Mark Richards, Ian Cairns, Peter Townend and Shaun and Michael Tomson, a group of South African and Australian surfers who made their way to the Oahu North Shore in 1974 and promptly revolutionised surfing through a combination of innovative, often dangerous new surfing moves and their dominance of the competition circuit, ultimately paving the way for the billion dollar industry sport that surfing is today.

However, in doing so, Rabbit and co. greatly angered the Hawaiian locals, thanks, in no small part, to an article Rabbit wrote for Surfing magazine that boasted of their supremacy and essentially rubbed the Hawaiians' faces in it (one headline read “Aloha is dead”). This lead to death threats and violence and essentially forced the group into hiding until reparations could be made.

The Good
As with most surf docs, the surfing footage is extremely impressive and there's a semi-decent soundtrack that deliberately creates a different mood to the joyousness of Riding Giants. The film also improves on the recent Waveriders by actually giving some background on its subjects, though it restricts itself to stories about Rabbit, Shaun Tomson and Townend, while largely ignoring the others and only giving a cursory voice to the Hawaiian side of things.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is that the entire thing feels like an extended sequence that was cut out of Riding Giants – it's an engaging and sporadically interesting story, but it frequently feels like a ten minute anecdote spun out to feature length. Similarly, Edward Norton's narration is unforgivably dull and dry – frankly, he sounds bored, which doesn't help the atmosphere for the film.

Worth seeing?
Ultimately, Bustin' Down The Door falls into the same trap as Waveriders, which is, if you can't make your documentary at least halfway as good as Riding Giants, then why bother making it? Not unwatchable, but likely to only be of interest to surfing fans.

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Bustin' Down The Door (15)
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Content updated: 20/10/2017 15:01

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