Working in conjunction with BMX legend Mat Hoffman and some of the best
stunt riders in the world, Johnny Knoxville hosts a super stunt
spectacular in homage to the late, great Evel Knievel. A fittingly over-the-top doff of the cap (and cape) to a unique American icon, Mat Hoffman’s Tribute to Evel Knievel is a nutty compendium of bike jumps and stunts that ends with blood streaming down Knoxville’s leg, from a torn urethra.
Gathering in Oklahoma at a massive, bulldozed dirt track seemingly in the middle of nowhere, this outrageous and uncensored tribute is co-emceed by Hoffman and Knoxville, with the former helping oversee jump particulars (along with stunt coordinator “Spanky” Spangler) and Knoxville offering up his own cackling, awed commentary. The participants include MotoX superstar Travis Pastrana, Trigger Gumm, Allan Cooke, Davin Halford, Jeff Schneider, Scott Palmer and Mike Hook, a midget who straps on for a record-setting tandem jump. Director Spike Jonze also stops by for a bit, and tries a BMX back-flip into a giant metal bin of foam cubes.
Most of the stunts top even that in entertainment value. Schneider attempts the same aforementioned feat riding a heavy Harley Davidson bike, and Gumm — sporting a cape that reads “Fuck It” and working with a five-foot ramp — runs through a litany of distance jumps, including a record-setting 69-foot back-flip. The nuttiest moment, though, may be Palmer’s planned dive out of an airplane without a parachute. After freestyle air-surfing for about 40 seconds, he links up with another jumper who latches onto him and rigs the pair up in mid-air.
The final segment finds Knoxville (a self-professed motorcycle newbie) attempting repeated back-flips, the last of which ends with the bike coming down on his… well, junk. He gets up, but moments later feels a strange trickle down his leg; the handlebar has torn his urethra, so he’s packaged in an ambulance, wailing that he’s injured the only body part that means anything to him. All in all, buoyed by some nice period piece footage, this lark of a title is a crazy, cathartic tribute to Knievel, the man whose stunts inspired not only the movie Hot Rod, but also an entire generation of daredevils and jackasses alike.
Housed in a red Amray case that gives the DVD some extra pop on one’s shelf, the disc is presented in widescreen, and comes with a Dolby digital stereo audio track. While it only runs 47 minutes, there’s over an hour of supplemental bonus content to bolster the title’s rental and replay value, including mounds of rowdy behind-the-scenes jostling, plenty of heartfelt thoughts on Knievel from the participants here, still photo and audio footage from Knoxville’s painful hospital visit and a clutch of music videos. There’s also a tattoo montage, a retrospective of Hoffman’s trailblazing BMX career, a photo gallery and more. B- (Movie) B+ (Disc)