If you’ve ever heard of Eric Jacobus or the Stunt People, you’ll remember some short martial arts films on YouTube that usually have a very creative twist to them.
But did you know Eric stars in his own feature length film?
So I just recently got my hands on the 2012 film by Eric Jacobus called Death Grip. It’s an interesting film which utilizes the talents of The Stunt People and Johnny Yong Bosch.
It’s a bit more thriller than martial arts action film in plot, yet has some interesting ways of mixing martial arts into the film – altering it’s genre in an artistic way. So it’s not your standard martial arts action film!
Let’s get down to what this film is about…
Eric Jacobus plays Kenny, a young guy with a rough but somewhat untold background. We meet Kenny when he is collecting his mentally challenged brother, Mark, from a mental institution after 15 years of estrangement.
When we first meet Mark we learn of his quirks. He does strange things like walking through doors, closing them behind him and locking people out, he effortlessly break locks and padlocks and has a very introverted personality and keeps mostly to himself.
Mark is an innocent, mentally challenged man in care of his brother Kenny. However, Kenny hasn’t had the most squeeky clean life and could lose care of Mark if he doesn’t straighten up and fly right.
So Kenny takes great care to keep his life in algnment to maintain care of his brother Mark until everything goes wrong.
Kenny takes a last minute catering job where a valuable coin/artifiact is on display. Naturally, a group of criminals develop a plan to steal the coin whilst Kenny and Mark just happen to be in building. Innocently, Mark unlocks the secure cabinet and takes the coin during the robbery. That’s when they are confronted by the thieves and they take the coin back.
With Mark being caught on camera, Kenny being fearful of the law and possibility of the two being split up, Kenny goes after coin and ends up at the criminal’s HQ, locked up place in a quiet part of town.
So Kenny is in trouble looking for the coin, running into friends and foes while is brother Mark wanders through the whole situation innocently making life difficult and dangerous for him.
A dark thriller with a creative twist
The overall look and feel of the film is very serious and a bit dark mostly, with a nice twist being added to the film. The characters are interesting and we learn their history as it unfolds throughout the film. Mark’s innocence is established further throughout the film and we learn of his regrets and their relationship to his brother’s.
The regrets of these two brothers are showb in a somewhat emotionless acting style. We get the feeling that life has an overpowering tone of depression. However, small sequences are mixed in and we are given a window to look into and see what’s going on inside the heads of our main character. The emotionless exterior is then replaced with the intense internal emotion that’s draining him.
The film does an excellent job of projecting the life and demons faced by both characters. As this internal suffering is told to the audience. The relationship between the characters also develops. In this style of filmmaking we get a simple, straight forward story which quickly injects the more complicated aspects of the story and characters in snippets – which is an excellent way to keep the film easy to follow.
Death Grip is visually dark film as the story mostly takes place in the deep hours of night. There’s a sense of being alone and trapped in a city surrounded by ruthless criminals with no one else to be found.
Some hard-hitting reality is projected into this film with an interesting contrast to an overactive imagination that exists in Kenny’s mind – mirroring the mindset of many Martial Arts movie fans. This is told best through the action of the film.
An interesting display of action
Whn you’ve got guys like Eric Jacobus and The Stunt People in the mix you know you can expect some quality martial arts and a creative delivery of that action.
These guys create some awesome fight scenes. Eric has terrific acrobatic ability which is projected with high intensity. His delivery isn’t just about adrenaline however, as he uses a style of visual poetry that bledns creative concepts in with the action.
This film’s action concept embodies that style very well. While \tThis film isn’t totally packed with martial arts, there’s enoguh of it that the martial arts fan can still have fun watching.
Where the martial arts action is different will come as a surprise to most. There are no real “martial arts” fighting in the events of the film.
All of the fights are gritty, real and show a more realistic struggle of the average man against a group of criminals. The martial arts sequences are all injected into the film in a bit of a ‘dream state’ style.
As each conflict arises we see what Kenny sees in his imagination – he springs into action using his super human fighting skills taking apart his enemies like any other martial arts hero you’ll see in a good Kung fu film. After the sequence is over, we see the real fight with real dangers and struggle in dark contrast to his imagination.
Kenny is like a kid whose seen too many martial arts movies – believing in an unrealistic level of superhuman ability, swinging into action and it just doesn’t work out as he thought it would.
This whole ‘dream state’ concept is interesting and comments on people’s belief of what they can achieve. But this film shows the reality of how it would all play out. Movies are entertainment, not reality!
Death Grip is quality film. Remove the martial art sequences and creative action sequences and you’d still have an entertaining thriller. But as a martial arts fan this creative addition of action makes the film just a little special and incredibly unique.
If you’re a fan of the Stunt People and smaller productions that have high level martial arts, check out Death Grip!