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Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator

The perfect double feature with Dogtown and Z-Boys, 2002's Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator has some similar characteristics of that earlier film in that both tell tales of past glory days of the skating world. But while Dogtown was a mostly positive journey through the sport's reinvention during the '70s, Stoked is a portrait of how the sport changed in the ' '80s, and how fame sometimes is the worst drug for an inexperienced youth. Mark "Gator" Rogowski was one of the superstars of the mid-'80s in vertical skating, great at riding ramps and pools. Alongside other famous players like Lance Mountain and Tony Hawk, Rogowski became one of the sport's greatest and best known figures through corporate sponsorship and promotion, achieving a rock-star level of fame. Known for his defiant attitude and an incident when he punched a police officer, he was a perfect bad boy for a sport established on its rebelliousness. During this high period he seemed happy with his live-in girlfriend Brandi, and everything seemed to be going perfectly. But as the '80s drew to a close, street-skating gained more prominence than vertical, and the companies that sponsored Gator — like Vision Street Wear — looked more and more out of touch to a scrutinous skating public that spots and derides phonies. And Gator was also out of it; he changed his name to Mark Anthony and pursued an acting career while showing no talent for the new style of skating; he also lost patience with his fanbase as he struggled to be relevant to them. Slowly losing everything he held dear — including Brandi — the film then shows his slide into oblivion, as he partied heavily, found God, and then committed murder. The first hour of Helen Stickler's Stoked is a fun exploration of Gator; one grows to like him, even though he seems to have gotten famous too young and couldn't come to grips with it. Stickler does a wonderful job accessing colorful interviewees (like Mountain and Hawk, among others) who tell lively stories about Gator, and the life of the pro skater in general. But with the last act of the movie, as the film dives into the crime Gator committed, it all becomes so heinous it changes one's perspective on everything that's happened previous — an effect heightened when interviewee Brandi (who comes off as a light-hearted party girl) is reduced to tears recounting Gator's crime. The film is also bolstered by a great punk soundtrack. Palm Picture's DVD release of Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator presents the film in full frame (1.33:1) and both DD 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 stereo. For extras, besides trailers and a TV special on it, there are 15 pieces of footage of Gator, some back in the day acting for skate videos, some at skating events, some extended scenes from the documentary. It's a rawer look at the man. Keep-case

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