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Eric Jacobus: ‘Blindsided’ with a ‘Stop Hit’?

Eric Jacobus

Mike Leeder notes that rising star may have plenty of projects in the pipeline, but his next two releases don’t show off his full potential…

American independent martial arts actor Eric Jacobus can be seen in two upcoming projects that seem to show the two extremes of indie action movie making: Blindsided and the Stop Hit… the good and the bad.

The upcoming Blindsided pays homage to the legend of Zatoichi, the Japanese blind swordsman and hero of countless film & tv adaptations. The character was previously given an English language makeover in Philip Noyce’s under-rated gem Blind Fury. That film saw saw Blade Runner‘s Rutger Hauer as a mercurial blind swordsman drawn into battle various bad guys (including ’80s Ninja legend Sho Kosugi) to save a friend and his son from peril.  For Blindsided, Jacobus plays a seemingly mild mannered blind man whose trip to the grocery store interrupts a shakedown from a group of thugs… and who are amazed to see just how much trouble a blind man can give them.

Directed by stunt-maestro Clayton Barber (fight-coordinator on Creed) and co-produced by The Huntsman 5.1‘s David No (also seen in The Matrix Reloaded and Mr Nice Guy) the film sees Jacobus wearing his trademark beard as the blind hero, while Roger Yuan (from Jason Bourne and Batman Begins) plays the grocery store owner. The film runs just over twelve minutes and it’s an entertaining short with some nice action. It pays homage to the source material ie Zatoichi and Blind Fury, as well as Daredevil (both the and Netflix versions) in regards to the hyper sensory skills of the hero. And while the action is nicely put together… riffing on elements of , Indonesian, Korean action cinema… it is shot well: there’s no shakey-cam here.

With Jacobus as Action-Coordinator and Yuan as Fight-Choreographer, and the hype being given to the project, perhaps I was expecting too much. It is fun, there are moments that are genuinely excellent – I like the nod of the head to Book of Eli (with Jacobus able to smell one opponent coming) but even in a 12-minute short, there’s a lot of inconsistencies and missed opportunities. ‘Oh he’s a Blind man, who likes apple pie:  cue slapstick at home as blind man drinks sour milk and then hot sauce by accident – ha ha – but hang on if he can smell an opponents BO at a distance why couldn’t he smell the sour milk or hot sauce?‘ We then see Jacobus demonstrating hints of his special skills on the way to the grocery store, kind of eliminating any sense of surprise when the special skills kick in.. Ii could have handled the ‘Ah, he’s got those powers but they only really kick in at a time of danger etc…‘, but no….. so when he suddenly unleashes his fighting skills and the knife in his cane, its not much of a shocker!

And there’s no real pay-off as to WHO Jacobus is or from where he gets his mysterious skills. Is he a Mutant? Is he a highly skilled masseuse with sword skills? A blinded war veteran taught exceptional sword skills by a mysterious warrior tribe or perhaps even the vigilante son of a former boxer whose close encounter with some mysterious chemicals enhanced his other senses? Instead when Yuan asks Jacobus just who he is, we get the answer: Just a blind man who likes his apple pies!…. The unseen is my world!

I am sure it might be intended as Bruce Campbell ASH styled delivery, instead it comes across as either bad acting or bad direction. It’s played too broad at the moment and left me shaking my head at why it was delivered that way. If you’re gonna play it that big, have him walk into a wall or trip over something to sell the sweeping statement…instead he says it, we’re waiting for a punchline and then he just walks away….

There is no denying the talent involved both in front and behind the camera, and just as Contour and Death Grip showed what Jacobus can do – as do his countless video game character emulations – but whereas Rope-A-Dope fused the idea of Groundhog Day with martial arts, Blindsided just feels like a Blind Fury styled fan-film. The hype is there, but it doesn’t deliver all it could,  treading very familiar ground.

The film hits YouTube from March 1st, and I’d love to see Jacobus really deliver on his potential, but this to me isn’t the project to push him to the next level. All the ingredients are there but perhaps the mix wasn’t quite right. Jacobus and Barber’s work can also be seen on the upcoming Chinese Boxing movie, Heart of a Champion.

However… I would like to say that Blindsided is about 150 times better than the other upcoming Jacobus project. Eric is the co-lead in the Hong Kong-lensed oddity Stop Hit, produced and directed by Dr Zee Lo (who plays the other co-lead). The film is an ultra low budget Black Rain meets styled project. I’m not sure if it means to be an action thriller or an action comedy from the . It also stars veteran Kung Fu movie stars Carter Wong (Big Trouble in Little China, The 18 Bronzeman) and John Cheung (Dragon: The Story, Writing Kung Fu).  Dr Zee Lo has been making his own independent martial arts movies for several years of varying quality – I think this is his tenth feature – and while we all salute his film-making spirit, the trailer for Stop Hit has us scratching our heads at what he was thinking during the editing and post-production and perhaps during the shooting as well! Its ungraded, badly edited, badly choreographed and badly shot and – based on the online trailer – doesn’t seem showcase the skills of anyone involved from Zee Lo himself, through Carter Wong, John Cheung or Jacobus.

There are at least two other Hong Kong-lensed Dr Z movies to look forward to: Fire Monkey – which seems to be a modern day take on the legend of the Monkey King – and an as yet untitled tournament movie riffing on Enter the Dragon starring Dr Z and Shaw Brothers legend Chen Kuan-tai (The original Iron Monkey, Boxer from Shantung) and shot on many of the same locations as Bruce Lee’s original. As I’ve said, I admire Dr Z for his independent spirit but I would hope he could get someone to work with him who could up the quality of his productions, and make better use of those involved…



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