One the best in the indie martial arts circuit, Eric Jacobus, brings us a very interesting film whose action can be said to be inspired from a certain famous detective and is helped by the appearance of a former Power Ranger.
All Kenny Zemacus wants to do is to get over his tragic past and start his life over. To start, he takes his autistic brother Mark out of the care home he’s stayed in after fifteen years. Attempting to play baseball with him doesn’t go as planned as Mark is bullied by three punks. However, Kenny helps his brother out and the two head home. That night, Kenny gets a call and is asked in a last minute replacement for a catering job at the local museum. It is where both his and Mark’s lives will change forever.
At the museum, Kenny sees a rare coin, the Silver Coin of Judas. That night, as museum curator Rindy and her assistant Michael prepare to return the coin to its rightful owner, they are held at gunpoint by three masked robbers. While the robbers prepare to put Rindy and Michael in the basement for safekeeping, Mark takes the coin himself. The head robber, revealed to be cult leader Torch, wants the coin to perform a ceremony for his cult. After a brief fight against Kenny, Torch successfully retrieves the coin and heads to make his destiny. Kenny and Mark, determined to make things right, decide to get the coin themselves, even if it means having to take on Torch and the members of the Knights of Judas.
If you haven’t seen the work of one Eric Jacobus, then you are truly missing out on a treat. Jacobus, the founder of the independent martial arts stunt team simply known as The Stunt People, brings us action that is reminiscent of the glory days of Hong Kong action cinema. For this film, Jacobus comes up with something quite ingenious. He brings us action that can be said to be inspired by the 2009 adaptation of Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr. In that film, Downey’s Holmes would use his deductive reasoning to figure out what moves would be useful in a fight. However, if you have seen any of Jacobus’ films, it’s clear the man loves comedy and brings a comical twist of sorts to bringing that to life.
Alongside Jacobus is Stunt People member Nathan Hoskins, who does a virtual non-action role as Kenny’s autistic brother Mark, who is still somewhat plagued by the events of fifteen years ago. However, like his big brother Kenny, Mark just wants to get behind his past. The film’s central villain is played by former Power Ranger Johnny Yong Bosch. After seeing him in films such as Extreme Heist and Broken Path, it may seem hard to see Bosch play a villain. However, he does a fine job here as Torch, the leader of a Satanic cult. Rebecca Ahn may seem like a damsel in distress type as museum curator Rindy, but she is involved because all she wants is to return the coin to its rightful owner after its exhibition.
Jacobus and the Stunt People team were in charge of the action scenes and as always, they are exciting to watch. What’s great is that we see in Kenny’s mind how he would like to handle the situations he gets involved in. When he finally faces reality, they may or they may not come out as either he, or the audience would expect. Jacobus gets into some pretty comical action scenes at times, including his first encounter with Bosch. There is some insane bloody goodness in the film and at times, it is cringeworthy. The final battle between Jacobus and Bosch is quite a delight to watch and overall, the action sends a message to major Hollywood studios. And that message is “this is how you shoot action”.
Death Grip is a fun indie right that combines comedy, exhilarating action, and a little taste of gore. Eric Jacobus is definitely a fine filmmaker and surprisingly, Johnny Yong Bosch proves he is one who can join the “dark side” as the film’s villain. Definitely worth taking a look at in terms of fine indie action films.
WFG RATING: B+
Osiris Entertainment presents an Actionpact Productions in association with The Stunt People. Director: Eric Jacobus. Producers: Eric Jacobus and Rebecca Ahn. Writer: Eric Jacobus; story by Jacobus, Pete Lee, and Chelsea Steffensen. Cinematography: Drew Daniels. Editing: Eric Jacobus.
Cast: Eric Jacobus, Nathan Hoskins, Johnny Yong Bosch, Rebecca Ahn, Chelsea Steffensen, Alvin Hsing, Ray Carbonel.