Due to the fact the dawn of cinema, the unsung hero of Hollywood action films has been the stunt particular person. Males and females who seldom get face time or name recognition, but nonetheless bring about audiences to Ooh and Aah in amazement at the physical feats that make it onto the screen. Gary Kent, the topic of director Joe O’Connell’s new documentary, Danger God is a man with a story to inform in words and injuries that will fascinate film fans who appreciate to know the entire story.
I’ve lengthy held stunt performers in higher esteem, specifically these who have crossed more than into the globe of acting. People today like Dick Durock who most famously played Swamp Issue in the films and Television show to Zoe Bell who identified herself going from doubling Lucy Lawless on Xena: Warrior Princess to getting cast as the lead in Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof. Most not too long ago I sang the praises of present stuntwoman, Tara Macken for her starring function in the great indie action flick, Intensive Care.
In my leisure time viewing I’ve been drawn to documentaries chronicling the history of these prolific performers who show up in much more films than we understand. I recall going to a midnight screening of the 1980 film Stunt Rock which featured Australian stuntman Grant Web page teamed up with a magic primarily based rock group named Sorcery to showcase his daring stunt operate.
The aforementioned Zoe Bell and veteran stuntwoman Jeannie Epper had the behind the scenes cameras turned on them in the thoughtful documentary Double Dare, revealing the life of a stunt lady on either side of a profession in Hollywood. Whilst every single of these productions was entertaining in their personal way, the engaging story identified in Danger God is a new window into a globe exactly where taking probabilities with your physique can lead to fascinating possibilities in Hollywood for these who dare to dream.
I will have to admit, Gary Kent was not a name that sprang to thoughts when I believed of stunt operate. That could be due to the reality that the majority of his time on camera took location in the 60’s, an era of cinema I have a bit of a blank spot for. It could also be chalked up to the reality that even though he crossed paths with a lot of A-list film stars, Kent’s location in film history as a stuntman, actor, writer and director was identified only to a pick couple of. Danger God modifications all that.
Presented now in the twilight of his profession, we understand by way of a series of interviews and archival footage that Gary Kent’s film profession coincides with the rise of independent cinema in the 1960’s exactly where he acted as a stunt double to Jack Nicholson in the western Shooting. From there he quickly identified himself playing a series of leather wearing, bike riding toughs in b-photos like Hell’s Bloody Devils or The Extraordinary two Headed Transplant, just before generating his way behind the camera. But Kent was not alone.
A single of the much more endearing components of this story is the brotherhood that exists amongst the stuntmen of the era exactly where there was true danger in each fall from a horse, leap from a roof or flight by way of a glass window. Kent has a core group of pals, now the elder statesmen of the film and tv stunt globe, who laughingly trade stories about broken bones and stunts gone incorrect as if they had been just par for the course. These rough and tumble seniors aid bring a sense of neighborhood to the stories and vouch for Kent’s character as his story unfolds.
Continually referred to as the nicest guy in the globe, who portrayed the worst of humanity on screen in films like Satan’s Sadists and Schoolgirls in Chains, Kent’s affable nature is apparent on screen as he is generally identified joking about about an unbelievable run-in with Charles Manson and much more, even though also permitting for moments of vulnerability as he reveals particulars of his eventful individual life behind the scenes involving his late wife and creating companion Tomi Barrett.
Even though he’s worked with a lot of nicely identified actors all through his profession, the only name of note which sits down for an interview is Mark Singer. Yes, The Beastmaster himself was a frequent collaborator with Kent and is identified clowning about in old camcorder footage from the 90’s even though praising the man in the present day.
It is good to see Kent get his due respect at book signings for his memoir or unique screenings of his films place on the by The Alamo Drafthouse. The latter is specifically enjoyable as Kent coordinates on a stunt spectacular in the parking lot total with fiery carnage and vehicle crashes. These moments are bittersweet nonetheless in that it is apparent that only the most die difficult cinema fans appreciate the lifetime of operate identified on his imdb web page, with attendance getting sparse for these events.
Danger God creates an intimate portrait of a multi-talented performer who persevered by way of the Hollywood method thanks to guts and a very good heart, which Gary Kent seems to be the embodiment of. Most of all it offers lovers of film a deeper view of these bodies getting launched across the screen by explosions or dragged behind speeding vehicles at higher prices of speed in our favored action flicks. Stunt operate could generally be a thankless job in the eyes of the common public, but now we know who the true heroes of cinema are.
Danger God is out there now on DVD and digital from Wild Eye Releasing.