Draven Reviews: FIVE by Xeon Steel

approved Title: Five
Artist: Steve Choi
Producers: Xeon Steel
Retail Price: $29.95 USD
Learning Difficulty: Easy
Length of DVD: 2 Hours 16 minutes
Notes: Some Assembly Required



•    DVD
•    Gimmick
•    Classic Vernet T.T.

•    Play All
◦    Intro & Gimmick Construction
◦    Handling Gimmick
◦    $50 to $100 Change
◦    Borrowed Bill
◦    Origami Intro
◦    Constructing Origami Swan
◦    Origami Change
◦    Closer Look for Origami Change
◦    Credits
◦    Quick Bloopers

Xeon Steel A.K.A. Steve Choi has come out with quite an impressive bill change DVD.  That’s saying something considering there’s no shortage of bill change effects on the market, and I should know… I’ve reviewed many of them and probably own the rest.

So what makes Xeon’s Five so unique among so many bill changes?  Well the title of the DVD is a huge hint:  You can change a bill denomination not once, not twice, but up to five different times.  Borrow a single from someone and then turn it into a five, then a ten, then a twenty, then a fifty, and finish with a hundred.  The handling is pretty open and the changes are visual and instantaneous.  This is one of the most impressive bill change routines I’ve seen in a while.

The DVD is a monster of a DVD with content considering it weighs in at over two and quarter hours in length.  Considering the power and versatility in handlings of this effect you could easily build an entire twenty minute money routine using this effect as the back bone for it.  Everyone has money, and everyone wants more of it.  Every single motivation for doing the magic with Five is there and it’s just low hanging fruit for the picking.  The only downside to the effect, for one, is you’ll have to invest $186 dollars into the creation of the gimmick.  Of course you could use monopoly or fake money provided it’s the same size as US currency, hell for that matter you could use any currency so long as it’s the same size as US bills, but I think using real money hits harder in presentation.  The other downside is you’re going to have to construct your own gimmick.  If you’ve read my reviews you know I’m not an art school major.  I really shouldn’t be trusted with anything sharp like knives or scissors for that matter.  The gimmick I found to be easy enough to make, but you’ve got to be careful with the special “*thing” that is included.  I think I broke a couple before everything was said and done.  They are kind of fragile for what they are.  I think it took me about 20 minutes to assemble everything and get it ready to perform.

The DVD is edited in such a way that it is one continuous video.  That means no chapter headings, and no root menu to select chapter sections from.  This has got to be the single most annoying feature of this product, and that alone is enough to make it a nightmare to go back through and review it if you need to work on some nuance that you missed.  The only option you have is to use the fast forward or rewind buttons to try and skip through things as quickly as you can.  If you want to see something in the last half of the second hour of the DVD… you’re going to be sitting there for a few minutes while you skip through it all to get there.  Freaking annoying as hell!  There is some good material in this DVD but it’s a pain in the rear to try and get to it in any expedient fashion.

Performing this routine you can borrow a bill from someone and then switch it out for your gimmick, which I like better than not borrowing a bill.  I agree with Xeon that this method really is much stronger in performance.  Your angles are pretty good for almost any performance situation.  The exception being that you cannot work in the round.  Five is weak from angles that exceed 180 degrees or completely exposed from behind.  The kicker ending with an X appearing on the $100 dollar bill in the same place that you draw it on the last bill just melts the spectator’s minds.  My biggest issue is getting over my magicians guilt due to the thickness of the gimmick.  I can’t help but think “this has got to be freaking obvious to these spectators” and it never is.  No one has ever called me out on it in the few times that I’ve done this change so far.

There is an additional bonus move taught on the DVD called the Origami change.  You basically fold a bill up like you’d do any normal bill change, but at the end you produce a origami paper crane folded out of the bill.  You can give this away to the spectator too, at the cost of a dollar each time you do it, if you wish.  I thought the Origami change was a nice addition, and would make for a good follow up to performing Five, but I don’t see this as something I’d use every time.  Remember that arts and crafts comment earlier?  Yeah, I’m not good at origami either.

There’s a lot of bill change magic that is out there.  And there are a lot of visual single bill changes too, but I’ve never seen a routine like Five before that allows you to change a single bill into just about every form of major currency denomination that we have in the US in such a visual and open way.  The DVD is a nightmare to review after you’ve gone through it start to stop once, but I’m not sure that’s enough to fail this product overall.  After all ours is the business of entertainment and making memories with magic, and when performed Five certainly does that.

*My apologies for any vagueness, but I can’t really explain what these “things” are without exposing the gaff.

When I give my product scores below I am measuring them on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 Being absolute the worst score possible, and 10 being the absolute best, making a score of five average. The four points that I grade upon is Product Quality, Teaching Quality, Sound & Video Quality and Overall Quality.

Product Quality:
This is a wonderful trick, and the price of the DVD isn’t bad.  But you’re going to be investing over $200 dollars into it by the time it’s all said and done to do it proper.  So this may not be a trick for everyone.

Teaching Quality: 1
The tutorial is very thorough, but damn is it a pain to navigate through.  One single continues video format on a two + hour DVD with no chapters, or the ability to skip through sections?  What the bloody hell were you thinking?!

Video & Sound Quality: 8
The sound and video were both of good quality.

Overall Quality: 5
Let me explain the overall score because it’s going to be confusing.  The ONLY reason why this didn’t fail a Draven Reviews is because the magic in it is not only really good, but commercial as well.  I absolutely hated the formatting in this DVD, and given the length of it, made it impossible to re-watch with ease.  I’d want to give the product as a whole a grade of a 2 for overall quality, but I can’t out right justify that because the magic is so good.  I’d give the magic a grade of an 8 for overall quality, so I’m just going to split the difference and just pass it with a grade of 5 and highly recommend you get this DVD if you like magic with bills, and bill changes.

Have a product you want reviewed?  Want to see if it will stand up to the Draven Seal of Approval?  Contact me directly at draven@williamdraven.com to find out how your product could be on the next Draven Reviews!


About William Draven

William Draven is a professional magician and sideshow performer living in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter at WilliamDraven or on facebook at www.facebook.com/thewilliamdraven
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