Deathgrip isn’t about re-inventing the wheel, it’s just about raising the bar. There are plenty of films that showcase riding out there but few do it as comprehensively, inspiringly or successfully as this.
It’s easy to see why though, Brendan Fairclough and Clay Porter is heavy hitting combination in anyone’s book, blend them with some stunning, cherry-picked locations and the latest filming tech and you’re on to a winner. Ever since they pencilled out the idea at a World Cup afterparty years ago, Porter and Fairclough they knew they could make a special film, throw in big names like Nico Vink, Olly Wilkins and Brandon Semenuk and this becomes true box office material.
Thursday night’s premiere at Soho’s Curzon cinema was the first time that anyone except Porter had seen the full film – Fairclough included. Deathgrip played to a packed room with an atmosphere more like a gig than a film screening as banger after banger sucked cheers from the crowd. This was an audience who knew they were watching something special.
The film kicks off in South Africa with Brendan paying his good mate Andrew Neethling a visit. On a dustbowl track they spend more time sideways than forwards kicking up huge roost clouds in luscious slow-mo. It sets the tone of the film well, showcasing the speed and style of Fairclough that became a constant feature throughout the 40-minute runtime.
“Clay has put on a masterful showcase of some unreal riding”
From there you move to a loamy forest section with Nico Vink but the film really kicks up a gear in Schladming with Josh Bryceland. Porter takes the ‘raw’ concept one step further by recording the lads’ banter all the way down. It’s a perfect pedestal for what is arguably the best track in the world. Brendan’s nac on the famous step up is simply unbelievable.
Despite all the stunning locations, Clay said he was most nervous shooting Brendan and the Surrey crew riding their local dirt jumps. He needn’t have worried, he nailed it. It was the section that brought the most fun to the film with great vibes, big trains and a real back to roots feel – even playing homage to Stephen Murray’s Bicycles and Dirt section with the soundtrack.
The film explodes with the final two sections. The first is shot on a ridge-top track overlooking the sea in Madeira. The setting sun arcs off the Atlantic, silhouetting Brendan, Sam Reynolds and Nico Vink against a stark, orange backdrop as they flow through the jumps. Simply sublime. The show closed with Semenuk and Fairclough in Utah – frankly, mtb combinations don’t get much better than that. Steep chutes, huge jumps and an epic backdrop, it’s the perfect end to the film.
Highly stylised and packed with luscious slow-mo, Deathgrip really is a beautiful film, the two standing ovations it got at the Premiere are testament to that. Clay has put on a masterful showcase of some unreal riding that any mtb film fan simply must watch. With this, Ride Your F*#cking Bike and A Bigger Slice of British Pie, 2017 is spoiling us with some amazing mtb films.