2nd November 2005

Rodney Mullen vs Daewon Song – Round 1

Fellow A-Team, Blind and World Industries skaters Rodney Mullen and Daewon Song ride “against” each other in feature length video parts across some classic school terrain. They are supported by a host of then up-and-coming riders who are now firmly established as all time greats in their own right.

Nov 2, 2005 by Board Crazy Rodney Mullen vs Daewon Song, Round 1
Rodney Mullen vs Daewon Song, Round 1


I recently got hold of this close to legendary 1997 skate video on DVD. Yes, I know you can download it illegally, but the quality of ripped videos online is appalling. Erm, or so I’ve heard – of course I would never steal and nor should you…

But anyway, the point is the quality is bad and you can’t freeze frame (very well) or playback downloaded videos in slow motion which is really something you need to do with a decent skate video – especially where Rodney is concerned because half the time at normal speed I have not got the slightest idea what he’s doing with his skateboard.

What’s It All About?

In reality Mullen and Song are good friends and the whole idea of a competition was simply something that appealed to them as a slightly new way to present a skateboard video. This was something that was confirmed by . Having said that, the “competition” element does provide an easy framework from which to review the video.

The thing is – and anyone who knows of my great respect for Rodney knows that I don’t say this lightly – Daewon probably wins. That is, if you restrict the competition to the arena that it’s originally presented in (the schoolyard) and ignore Rodney’s freestyle parts on the streets of L.A. which are kind of seperate to the competition bit (it certainly seems like a ‘Rodney only zone’ in the video).

Daewon Song

Daewon comes on first, and his part is replete with the best flips into and out of grinds that I’ve ever seen. People often call Rodney a machine because of the way he churns out his flatland tricks but he’s got nothing on Daewon. I swear it’s almost impossible to catch him placing a foot wrong.

What’s equally as impressive is the speed at which he rides and tricks. Fakie kickflip nosegrinds with a shuvit or revert out are over in a split second. He lands backside kickflips and 360° flips that are quite simply heart breakingly clean, and stomps nollie or switch frontside heelflips on the flat or over benches, a trick that I find particularly brilliant to watch. Then you’ve got the bluntslides of all varieties which Daewon (and this video) are reknowned for.

What makes it difficult for Rodney to “win”, if we must pick a winner, is that Daewon levels a pretty strong challenge when it comes to tricks that I personally had always thought of as Rodneys speciality. Specifically, I’m thinking of flips into and out of manuals and bench top manuals. And somehow, these too seem cleaner when Daewon does them. The clincher is Daewons backside flip into a switch manual down the double bench setup. In fact, you might even go so far as to say that the only pure street trick that Daewon doesn’t do better is a darkslide, and that’s because he doesn’t do one at all…

Rodney Mullen

The problem with Rodneys part is that he opens with the weakest bit of his routine. It’s still great, but in comparison to what you’ve just seen Daewon do it looks shoddy at times. This means that you’ll sort of come away, like I have, thinking Daewon gets the better of Rodney. On the plus side, his part just keeps getting better and better, until some of the flatland and flatland influenced flip tricks remind you what this man is all about.

So he starts with a lot of crooked grinds and he always looks a little bit ‘gangly’ on his skateboard, if you know what I mean. Like, when he lands a revert out of a crooked or a nollie flip out of a nosegrind (two tricks that both skaters do several times) he’ll wobble a bit, or the flip will be a bit messy and the skateboard lands before Rodney does (whereas Daewon almost always catches the board cleanly in mid-air). It’s things like this that sort of add up and give you the general impression that Daewon is just a ‘better’ pure street skater.

Something else that may influence my opinion of Rodneys part is the fact that I’ve seen a lot of short clips from it before, reproduced in various videos such as the Tony Hawks bonus movies or pro files etc… So I guess it didn’t have quite so much ‘wow factor’ as it could have if you haven’t seen these bits before.

Having said that, I won’t sell Rodney short. As we all know there is just some stuff that only he does and a lot of this happens near the end of his street run and in his flatland section, and it’s amazing especially when you slow it down and actually work out what he’s doing with his feet. I won’t give too much away but here are some of my personal favourites…

Get It From…

Total VidExternal Linkoffers a high quality Rodney Mullen vs Daewon Song video download for only $2.99. If you have a decent DVD player and you want to slowmo the tricks in this video like I did, you can also buy the actual DVD from TotalVid for $19.95 (which, by the way, is way cheaper than places like www.skateboard.com). The fact that they are offering a 30 day free trial is icing on the cake.

I picked up a mint copy on DVD for £4.99 (about $9) from E-Bay, however I think I was quite lucky since it doesn’t seem to get sold there very much at all.

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