Starring Eric Jacobus, Nathan Hoskins, Edward Kahana Jr, Johnny Yong Bosch, Rebecca Ahn
Fight Choreography by The Stunt People
Directed by Eric Jacobus
Eric Jacobus (Mortal Kombat: Legacy Season 2) and his group The Stunt People are a talented mix of fight choreographers and martial artists, and have put out fantastic test fights online, and have done feature film work as well. Eric himself will get to shine in front of a mass audience as Stryker in Mortal Kombat Season 2. This review takes a look at one of his independent efforts.
Suffice to say, I hope he does some of the choreography work in MK Legacy. No offense, Larnell Stovall!
Death Grip follows Kenny (Jacobus), a mysterious man who has returned home to take care of his brother Mark (Hoskins) , who suffers from a mental illness after a fire that killed their mother years ago. Before long Kenny has to take a job as a caterer at the museum opening of a Judas coin, and things get dicey quickly when later that night, the coin is stolen by a group of thieves who turn out to be part of a cult. Mark, who happens to be quite adept at picking locks and electronic devices, takes the coin since he likes silver. This puts them, and Rindy (Ahn), one of coin presentation’s collectors, both in the crosshairs of Torch (Bosch), the leader of a cult who wants it back…
From a technical standpoint, Death Grip is great. The cinematography is spot on, and the fights, with the exception of one, is well shot. The one I have an issue with was the fight with the blind man in the dark. This is just my own personal gripe, but I hate martial arts films that have fights that take place in the darkness, ‘cause it renders the wonderful fight choreography useless. Other than that, all of the fight scenes were shot well.
The story itself follows a good progression, but the hero Kenny is incredibly hard to invest in. He’s dour, without a lot of personality (understandable given his history, but still), and I had a difficult time rooting for him to win, which is fine as he rarely ‘“wins” at all. He really doesn’t save anyone in the film, even though he’s supposed to be the hero. Mark, however, is a warm enough character to root for. Of anyone in the film, I most wanted Mark to get out of the situation intact. The same goes for Rindy as well. Rebecca Ahn brings a warmth and humanity to the screen, mostly shared with Jacobus, which is sorely needed due to Kenny’s detachment from, well, everything. Speaking of the star, Eric does a fine job playing Kenny, but as the character is so detached I just found Kenny too difficult to like, at least until near the end, where Kenny and Mark have a talk about the past, and the events that took their mothers’ life. Jacobus handles the action scenes with flair, and he handles the fights great. His direction shows he knows how to tell a story, and the actors did a fine job, so all’s well there. Johnny Yong Bosch (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Bleach) handles himself well as the bad guy Torch, a religious fanatic who needs the coin.
The fight scenes themselves are really, really good, much more old school 80’s Hong Kong than anything else (given the current state of Hong Kong martial arts films, that’s a high standard they’re having a hard time meeting themselves). My favorite fights in the film are at the very end between Jacobus and Bosch, and their fight in the bathroom toward the beginning, which is also the most humorous scene, involving Jacobus, Bosch, Hoskins, all moving slowly, and a busted toilet with an automatic flush, which quickly becomes everyone’s enemy!
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8
Death Grip is a good film with excellent fight choreography and a good story that unfolds like the pages of a good thriller. Eric Jacobus and the Stunt People don’t disappoint!