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Deathgrip Movie - A Review

We've been here before. Months of hype, a few tasty teasers, social media mayhem and our expectations cranked to 11. We're like kids at Christmas on the eve of the release of a new mountain bike movie, but it's fair to say that the prospect of Brendan Fairclough and Clay Porter joining forces to showcase their ultimate vision of what mountain biking can be adds a level of intensity to the build-up that would certainly stand in stark contrast to anything less than a slam dunk come showtime. Cue the opening scene, and a couple of mouthfuls of South African dust later, the hype is real. Deathgrip is here, and it's here to raise the bar.

If you came looking for a cinematographic masterpiece that lays bare the very essence of each rider's art, you'll find no other movie that even comes close.


We live in the era of the two-minute web edit, where a couple of thousands of dollars will buy you film-making equipment that only Hollywood could afford a few short years ago. So how do you make a 50-minute movie that stands out? And better yet, that has a shelf-life worthy of the effort that went into making it? As the old saying goes, "it's the product, guys". And in this case, the product is the riders. Deathgrip brings together a cast of bike handlers that have no equal. If you came looking for tricks, you'll be disappointed. If you came looking for a cinematographic masterpiece that lays bare the very essence of each rider's art, you'll find no other movie that even comes close. It's everything we wanted Life Cycles to be, minus the story line and for only narration the excitement, fear, and unadulterated joy of the protagonists as they lose themselves to the camera and reveal themselves to you, the viewer.


With the sensory overload that comes from living in an online world, we grow numb to increasingly outlandish feats of bravery and skill. It's all too easy to glaze over the barrage of content that comes at us on a daily or even hourly basis, our bodies and brains more and more reluctant to part with the chemicals that let us feel that rush of excitement that sweeps us off our feet for a few short moments. Paradoxically, it's the search itself that makes it harder to find what we are looking for. But today, Deathgrip has reset the clock and put our jaws back where they belong - firmly on the floor, with a tiny hint of dribble hanging from the corner of the mouth.


This movie isn't about driving trucks or putting on goggles. It's not about sunsets and rainbows. It's not about breathtaking vistas and gratuitous landscape shots, nor is it about booters and backflips. Yes, some of those shots are in the movie, but what makes Deathgrip unique is that it transcends gimmicks, technology and skill. We've all seen rad slomo shots before, and we've had our minds blown by impossibly sick stunts, but no other movie project has managed to pull together such a visually explosive yet uniquely mesmerizing avalanche of awesomeness. There are scenes that make you want to curse mother nature for giving you eyelids that have to blink every now and then.


As you might have guessed by now, we're not going to give you a blow-by-blow review of what makes this movie rad. Deathgrip rises above the others, not just because of the sheer radness of the individual parts featured, but because of a whole that is decidedly greater than any sum that came before it. Sure, some of the tracks built for Deathgrip are sick - but there have been others. Some of the riding scenes are mind-blowing in their own right, but some are actually about nothing more than shredding a bike down a hill. But where other movies seek the ultimate hit to tell the story, Deathgrip revels in the details. In this movie, the latest tools and tricks are not used as a crutch to enhance the experience, but rather to strip it down to its very core. Talking about individual performances and favorite moments would be doing this immersive chef d'oeuvre a monumental disservice, although that's not to say that we don't already have a few snapshots forever tattooed into the back of our eyelids...


Searching for words to describe our first impressions of Deathgrip has left us feeling every bit as inadequate at writing as we are at riding bikes, compared to the other-worldly class act put on display by the movie's cast and producers. But that's the beauty of this movie - it defies categorization and description, and it can't really be compared to those that precede it. That is the true meaning of raising the bar, and as we hit the rewind button for the third or fourth time today already, we count ourselves lucky to be here to experience it. With just a hint of melancholy at the thought of how hard it's going to be to follow this act.

Deathgrip is available to purchase on a variety of platforms today, including iTunes.

Hear more about Deathgrip directly from Brendog and Clay in our special edition podcast.

Deathgrip for Your Coffee Table

The most progressive mountain bike movie of recent times gets the paper and ink treatment.

DEATHGRIP BOOK documents the 12+ months of shredding and filming that went into the making of Clay Porter and Brendan Fairclough’s landmark movie project.

From the dust-storm berm destroying in South Africa to dank woodland steeze in California to lush Madeira to moonscape Utah, and with a stop off at home in the UK, get down with DEATHGRIP's outrageously stylish crew over 172 pages of the finest printed matter.

Field notes from the movie’s cast and crew give unrestricted access to the world of DEATHGRIP, while epic galleries from a number of the sport’s best photographers give alternative angles on the movie’s standout moments.

DEATHGRIP BOOK is available WORLDWIDE now at, at a cover price of £15 + P&P. 

Edited by James McKnight
Designed by Jon Gregory
Printed in the UK
Published by Misspent Summers

With Photography and Contributions from:

Jacob Gibbins, Ian Collins, Chris Seager, Duncan Philpott, Boris Beyer, Brandon Semenuk, Jens Staudt, Eric Palmer, Ewald Sadie, Chris Greenwood, Roo Fowler, John Asuncion, John Reynolds, Tom Bowell, Nikki Whiles, Cameron Baird, Ty Evans, Mike Rose, Kyle Jameson, Brendan Fairclough, Clay Porter, Olly Wilkins, Ryan Howard, Andrew Neethling, Nico Vink, Josh Bryceland, Sven Martin, Sam Reynolds.


by Johan Hjord

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