Eric Jacobus helped start the Stunt People back in 2001. Since then, they’ve worked on countless short films and projects. Their first feature film, Contour, debuted back in 2006, and featured solid action and intricate choreography, but was lacking in a deep story. This time, in the spirit of the Action Kickback, the team focused on a more story-driven film that still had solid fights. Would Death Grip be able to satisfy without sacrificing the action?
As expected, the story to Death Grip is the main motivation for all of the sequences that follow. It is simple enough to create a foundation, yet has enough going for it to keep people interested. The events don’t feel forced in, and all of the action flows nicely. I wish that more characters got the same attention to backstory that the main characters got, but it’s a tiny gripe in an otherwise strong story.
Like the story, the main 2 characters are the most interesting while the supporting cast has a little less to go off of. That being said, the relationship between Kenny and Mark feels very natural. You can sense the history between these two people, and it’s what make you root for them. They are people with real pasts and tragic histories that shaped who they are they are now. Johnny Yong Bosch plays a strong villain who’s not inherently bad, while Alvin Hsing masterfully plays a truly twisted character.
This is where the Stunt people truly shine. The fights are fast and intense. I absolutely loved some of the longer takes and little stunts that were sprinkled in. What make the fights truly shine, though, are the situations that are created. Each fight has its own personality and feel, and it’s apparent that a lot of thought went into these. One of my favorite fights is one that takes the term “toilet humor” to a whole new level. If you like fights, you won’t be disappointed.
I should point out that there are certain segments that play out more like a “what if” scenario. There are some moments when it is difficult to determine what is truly happening and what is simply imagined. Even though this can be a small hiccup, it actually gives the Stunt People the opportunity to film the same fights twice, and I’m not complaining about the quality of them. Oh, and those that are slightly squeamish might be uncomfortable for some sequences, but they are done very well.
Own it, Watch it, or Skip it?
Death Grip is a film that took a lot of risks and showed the team’s growth. It has a deeper story and more interesting fights. The team’s humor has also grown, with excellent timing and delivery. It’s safe to say that Death Grip succeeded on everything that it set out to do, and made a lot of people sit up and take notice as well. Death Grip is easily worth a watch, but warrants a buy for anyone who appreciates martial arts films. You can tell it was made by people who love their craft, and it’s one that will compliment anyone’s DVD library.