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Bustin’ Down the Door (DVD Review)

3 Jan, 2009 By: Pete Croatto

Bustin' Down the Door

Street 1/13/09
Universal/Screen Media
Box Office $0.11 million
$24.98 DVD
Not Rated
Narrated by Edward Norton.

In the mid-1970s, a group of surf-crazed young men from South Africa and Australia fled to Hawaii’s North Shore to ride the world’s best waves. Their arrival and subsequent success led to the start of professional surfing, which is chronicled in Bustin’ Down the Door, a fine documentary narrated by Edward Norton.

The movie traces the younger days of several surfing pioneers, most notably Shaun Tomson, Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew, and Mark Richards. Brazen, competitive, and in love with the fledgling sport, these kids’ zeal and revolutionary moves (breathtakingly captured via old photographs and film footage) captures the attention of the surfing press.

Prize money follows but so does resentment from the natives over the newcomers’ bold proclamations and lack of respect. The resentment takes a frightening turn, courtesy of a squadron of heritage-loving goons known as the Black Shorts. Fortunately, peace is (barely) maintained, allowing for surfing to become a sport that makes plenty of money and has its share of recognizable faces (Kelly Slater, Laird Hamilton).

Once one gets past the surfing jargon, recollections from the prominent figures of the events chronicled highlight surfing’s hard-scrabble past. “If you got free equipment, that was the ultimate,” Peter Townend recalls of the pro tour’s early days.

Equally suited for the pop-culturally curious and die-hard surfing fans, Bustin’ Down the Door uncovers an entertaining, neglected backstory of a sport whose history is still in its infancy. 

Extras on the DVD include deleted scenes and interviews from the Santa Barbara Film Festival.

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