Review: Holy Wood by Hanson Chien & Yao
Just before falling ill with a debilitating virus that rendered me pretty useless for well over a month, I’d made an order of magical goodies from Hanson Chien, one of my favourite Asian magic producers, during a recent sale on their online shop. The package arrived swiftly from Taiwan and so as I lay recuperating in my sickbed, I was thankful to have some really cool magic effects to tinker with. One in particular that stood out to me was Holy Wood… aka 神木.
Now if you speak Mandarin like I do, I’m confident that you’ll agree 神木 is a beautiful name for this magic effect, although in my humble opinion, a more accurate translation for 神木 would be Spirit Wood or Mystical Wood, even. But I digress. Holy Wood is an extremely clever effect from Hanson Chien and Yao, so let’s get to the usual introductions before I start the review proper 🙂
A DECK OF CARDS MORPHS INTO A WOOD BLOCK. This miracle is designed by Hanson Chien and engineered by Yao. Take a card push it through a solid deck of cards. When the card box is opened, however, the deck is solid…but a solid block of wood.
-Easy to carry
-Easy to perform
-A Self-Working Miracle
-An art piece rather than a prop
This art piece is proudly made in Taiwan. Each unit is individually fine-tuned by hand to ensure smooth and seamless operation. It’s produced in small quantities and availability will be limited.
Comes with beautiful handmade block + 2 boxes with slit.
Complete with detailed instructions by Hanson Chien.
NOTE: Playing cards NOT included.
Unboxing Holy Wood by Hanson Chien & Yao
It is evident that Hanson Chien and his team in Taiwan have plenty of pride and passion in what they do. The packaging for 神木 / Holy Wood is one of the most professional I’ve ever seen. Not only does the luxurious box look so good, every part of the elegant design is very well thought of to ensure all the gimmicks reach you safe and sound.
The single block of wood rests snugly in its dedicated foam insert, easily lifted from the deep recess of the bespoke box by a loop of gold ribbon— a far cry from when I first got into magic and magic effects came packaged in taped plastic bags— where you’ll find the two flattened red USPCC Bicycle card cases with slits in the middle (as mentioned in their marketing description), as well as, a small ziplock bag containing items to help with the maintenance and upkeep of the gimmick.
You’ll find the QR code and weblink to the tutorial printed on the inside of the box cover, along with a message of thanks from the creator that is printed on nice card stock in both English and Mandarin.
I must say, the 神木 / Holy Wood gimmick is incredibly well made. The creators weren’t kidding when they called it a piece of art… it really is a remarkable engineering feat. I mean, just look at it! There is no other block of wood in the package. You have absolutely nothing to switch out. This really is THE gimmick that makes the magic happen. And if you zoom in close, you’ll further appreciate the finesse that went into the construction of the gimmick.
That is also why in the 45min long tutorial, much emphasis is made on the proper care and maintenance of the gimmick. You need to treat that wooden block with as much love and respect as you would give your expensive guitar, beloved ukulele, or any instrument crafted from wood.
The tutorial was professionally shot and extremely enjoyable to watch. I like seeing Hanson Chien shine in his element; he is so charming when performing and presenting in his mother tongue. No worries there if you’re not a native Mandarin speaker, however. There are English subtitles you can easily follow along to in the video.
The video tutorial covers all aspects of the trick so don’t worry if you’re just starting out and not particularly good with sleights. 神木 / Holy Wood plays well as an interactive magic effect and I appreciate how it engages all the senses. Your spectators not only see a playing card/ credit card/ knife blade/ business card pass through the very center of the card box, they feel it too when they do it themselves, and then you completely stump them with the unexpected reveal of a beautiful block of walnut fitted perfectly inside the card box, before inviting them to slide it out and feel just how real and solid it is. Your adoring audience can even sniff the wood if they want, but I wouldn’t let them taste it 😉
Interesting presentational ideas were tossed around after the important technique and handling topics were covered. And once I was done with the tutorial, I couldn’t help but come up with my own: Holy Wood x Chopsticks aka 神木筷子!
Let’s talk USP (unique selling points)
There is just SO MUCH to love about Hanson Chien’s 神木 / Holy Wood. He credits Spanish magician, Jose Llacer, the inventor of the Matchbox Penetration effect that was released back in 1995 which sparked the imagination of his own creation. I think Hanson and his team have not only given the classic trick a brand new spin but have really made it their own, and should be extremely proud of themselves for coming up with such a novel concept!
All too often magicians pull out the usual card tricks, if not coins or sponge balls. 神木 / Holy Wood is a very different kind of magic that will appeal to people from all walks of life. Everyone I’ve handed the wooden block out for inspection to have had their mind melt. Seriously, folks just go wild because they have no idea it’s gimmicked! Yao did a FANTASTIC job in this engineering marvel.
While there’s some prep needed before you can perform this, it is very minimal and easy. No complicated DIY origami. Performance wise, I would say it’s not difficult to do, with only some audience management required. And this takes up barely any pocket space! Reset would take you less than a minute and then you’re good to go. If you use Hanson’s presentation, you’d need matching playing cards. I’d encourage you to come up with your own patter though, something original that works for you 🙂
TLDR: Holy Wood by Hanson Chien & Yao
If you’re a performer looking for an eye-catching magic effect that involves audience participation and is easy to do, 神木 / Holy Wood by Hanson Chien Productions would be a worthy investment to check out. This unique trick will boggle people’s minds and they will remember you for a long time to come. With proper care and maintenance using the included accessories, the gimmick should last a lifetime. It’s no wonder celebrity magicians like Lu Chen, Yif, and Eric Chien have said such good things about it. This gets a full 10/10 score and I would give more stars if I could!
You deserve good things. So go get yours now from the creators at Hanson Chien Productions.