This saturday I got to go to the premiere of Death Grip, the new feature length movie from the independent action film group The Stunt People. I’ve seen quite a bit of their work before, most of which can be described as amazing fighting and stunts shot on mediocre to poor equipment, a fun sense of humor, and terrible acting. It was that combination of humor and action that has worked so well for them in the past, and I was excited to see their latest endeavor, even if the trailer did look way more serious than their previous work. As the lights dimmed, I settled in to enjoy what I assumed would be a film on par with their previous endeavors. What I got was something else entirely.
What I liked:
Holy crap, there is so much I can say here. The fighting was intense and exciting, and genuinely felt real.
The cinematography was beautiful and the picture was sharp and clear, with fantastic use of color and lighting.
The sets and environments were interesting and it was fun and satisfying watching them get destroyed over the course of the many fights.
The story was engaging, and easily bounced around between being funny, touching, dramatic, and exciting.
The acting. Holy crap, the acting. I never thought I would say this about a Stunt People movie, but the acting was fantastic. Nathan Hoskins in particular had an amazing performance as Mark, the main character’s developmentally disabled brother. With only a few minor exceptions, the entire cast did a fantastic job bringing their characters to life.
What needs work:
Sound. I’m hoping that this was in large part a result of sound problems in the theater, (which was very old), but I know that some of the troubles came from the movie itself. Normally I wouldn’t point this out for an independent film, as good sound is one of the hardest things to achieve when shooting on a small budget, but everything else in Death Grip was easily on par with or better than the big Hollywood action movies, so that’s what I’m judging it by. It’s never bad enough to break the flow of the movie, in fact it’s pretty damn good for an indy film, but when everything else is fantastic, the stuff that’s just pretty good tends to stick out.
It feels like a long time since I’ve had this much fun watching a movie. Death Grip was genuine entertainment from start to finish, and one I will be watching over and over. It’s exciting, it’s brutal, it’s dramatic, and it’s really, really funny. But most of all, it’s an engaging story with characters you actually care about, which is something you don’t often get to say about an action movie. The DVD and Blu Ray are on sale now in their store, and you should go buy it. Seriously. Right now. Go.