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– by Stephon White

Just in time for the release of Quentin Tarantino’s long-awaited masterpiece Once Upon A Time In Hollywood comes a documentary on one stuntman’s life. It’s possible that you’ve heard of this legendary stuntman. He’s the very same that helped inspire Quenton Tarantino to create Brad Pitt’s character, and his name is Gary Kent. Who if you haven’t heard of, chances are you’ve seen him when you thought you were looking at your favorite actor. Kent’s doubled as a Hollywood stuntman for luminaries like Jack Nicholson in Ride in the Whirlwind and The Shooting. Enter Danger God.

This documentary presents a unique history into the life and career of the original Hollywood stuntman. Most of the narrative and video covers Kent’s career during the wild days of film-making. This takes place way before stunts meant squeezing an A-List actor into a green leotard covered in Christmas ornaments. Gary Kent is from a different time. He spends much of the autobiographical like documentary recounting the long-gone glory days on being a Hollywood stuntman. But by glamour, I don’t mean walk in the park. Kent is quick to talk about the times set lunch meant a couple of sandwiches and a low paycheck. The affable and charismatic Kent dovetails from his personal life to the day he became a stuntman. Without spoiling anything, I’ll say that’s one for the books and would likely have gotten someone booted from a set had they done the same today.

The tough-as-nails Hollywood stuntman got by and had some interesting run ins with some of the hippies and rebel bikers during that era. Hearing Kent recount the time he met Charles Manson comes across as charming, but it may not be quite the encounter one would have hoped for. But then again this was a pre-Tate murder Charles Manson. He just so happen to be the local Mr.Fixit lodging at the very same Spahn Ranch farmhouse Kent was filming on. How’d that go? Well thank God Kent’s alive today. No, seriously you’ll have to watch Danger God to find out the extent of the conversation.

It’s clear from watching the documentary that Kent is one of a kind. Though I have not seen Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, I am looking forward to seeing what lore from Kent’s life was used as the inspiration for Brad Pitt’s Clint Booth. Call me old fashioned but there was something charming about the way the documentary presents Kent. Numerous clips from his stuntman days are employed throughout so you never forget how storied his career has been. Later in the documentary the filmmakers shift gears and go for our emotional throats with first-person conversations with the man who’s survived falling off a stagecoach wearing zero pads, multiple surgeries, and even a round of chemotherapy. Watching this whole show from some omnipresent perspective, I can imagine is death since Kent keeps dodging it while some of his closest lovers and pals have not been so fortunate. And though Kent once famously had a run-in with a ghost on set, let’s be happy we can enjoy this everlasting gent while he’s still around. Here’s to a bygone era.

I recommend this one for any movie fan who’s interested in the glory days of Hollywood or is just interested in seeing one of the many shades of source inspiration for Brad Pitt’s character Clint Booth in Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Is it a solid story? Yes, indeed. What’s my main concern? I just wish it had more machismo, but then again what’s more bad-ass than the stunts Gary Kent performed? You’ll have to watch it and tell me.

Recommended if you enjoyed: The Kid Stays In The Picture  

FINAL GRADE: A-

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