Following the success of our Death Grip premiere, we were recently honored with another, more intimate screening of Death Grip, hosted by our good friend and avid fan John Chisholm. Thanks John!
As more friends and fans express interest in hosting their own screenings, and as the remarkably favorable press keeps rolling in, we thought we’d send out a note of our own to encourage more of these events!
So if you have your own DVD or Blu Ray and wish to host a screening at your home or local theatre, please feel free to do so – and do let us know about it, in case we are free and able to come join you as well!
If you don’t have your own DVD or Blu Ray yet, you can purchase your copy at our online store, and THEN use it to host your own intimate screening!
After a grueling six years since the release of their last proper feature film, San Francisco-based amateur action pioneers The Stunt People return with a vengeance in Death Grip, a sophisticated action- thriller that glimmers with professional polish and demonstrates the considerable progress the outfit has made in their mission to reclaim the art of the action film for a new generation of audiences jaded by the uninspired output of mainstream cinema.
Boasting impressive sets, a cast of capable dramatic actors and staggering technical prowess, Death Grip is a Stunt People production unlike any previously seen. Grim, suspenseful and superbly atmospheric, the group has at last found a vehicle that has enabled them to consolidate all their strongest attributes – unique storytelling, local flair, humor, concussive fight sequences and a distinguished filmmaking acumen that can only be the result of a devoted group of passionate aficionados investing countless hours to studying and honing their craft – into a cohesive cinematic package in which nothing feels derivative or out of place; you very well may see something you’ve never seen before in this film.
Each of Death Grip’s key players – Eric Jacobus, Nathan Hoskins, Rebecca Ahn, Johnny Yong Bosch, Alvin Hsing, Ray Carbonel and Chelsea Steffensen – fit their roles comfortably, and deliver engaging performances that provide the narrative’s fundamental substance. This is, at its core, a character study, and the events of the story are driven as much by the motives of each character as the necessity of indulging action-craving viewers. Death Grip succeeds where so many action films, independent or otherwise, fail: by placing its plot line at the center of its narrative focus and utilizing deftly-constructed action scenes as a device for heightening tension and elevating the stakes presented by the major complications, rather than as the primary spectacle, devoid of emotional gravity, through which characters become clumsy appendages. Everyone who fights does so for a reason, and, consequently, the foray’s participants are imbued with a sense of depth and credibility that make it easier for the audience to understand and get behind their actions.
And action is of course the arena in which The Stunt People shine the brightest. Forget the Coin of Judas, the group’s familiar brand of incredible martial artistry is what is really on display here. For the uncharacteristically sober tone, a blend of hyper-realistic violence and lavish stylization is employed, carried out with stunning athleticism and an impeccable amount of detail by Jacobus and the rest. Individual action scenes are like microcosmic narratives all their own folded into the larger fabric of the film, with special attributes that lend them novelty and distinction. One fight places Kenny in a darkened room with a blinded enemy, neutralizing the advantage of sight and forcing the combatants to rely on instinct and cunning to prevail; in a later scene, he is pitted against a knife-wielding henchman in what is, without exaggeration, one of the most intricately choreographed and nuanced encounters I’ve ever witnessed in film. For the grand finale, Jacobus has staged a climactic and devastatingly hard-hitting showdown between out-of-his-league Kenny and enigmatic cult leader Torch (veteran stunt actor Johnny Yong Bosch). All are exceptionally well-shot and executed, astonishing for a crew predominately comprised of DIY filmmakers and stunt performers with limited professional experience. By the conservative ninety minute mark, Death Grip is sure to satisfy the appetites of even the most voracious action fans, with lasting appeal for those grown accustomed to the latest bloated, all-filler offerings from larger, more commercial industries.
Though marketed as an action-thriller, Death Grip is in actuality an experiment designed to test whether a modest band of ambitious young talent is capable of producing, with no backing from professional agencies or studio developers, a cinematic product challenging the best that the corporate world of filmmaking has to offer, and whether such a venture would be received enthusiastically by a viewer base out of touch with what once earned the action genre a respected place among other forms of visual storytelling. The answer to both points is a resounding yes, bristling with fresh creative energy and emphatic as a punch in the teeth. Death Grip is proof-positive of the rewards of vision and hard work, and a glowing testament to the maturity of a team that still has vast potential to improve. A knockout.
Curt loved it – and if you do too, why not host your very own screening and help us spread the Death Grip love!