This week, people around the world are playing God of War Ragnarök (or maybe watching some Viking movies). Today, I’d like to teach you a little bit more about your Kratos, because he’s hiding an indie action-movie legend.
Eric Jacobus is the stunt coordinator for Ragnarök and also the motion capture stunt performer for Kratos himself (and has been since 2018’s God of War). He’s a terrific filmmaker and stunt man who has made tons of excellent martial arts shorts, with a specialty in action comedies in the style of Jackie Chan’s legendary Hong Kong films.
The perfect starting place for jumping into Jacobus’ non-Kratos work is his excellent pair of “Groundhog Day, but martial arts” shorts, Rope a Dope and Rope a Dope 2. It’s a clever premise, it’s very funny (and without a word of dialogue), and the fights kick ass.
There’s also Blindsided, a 12-minute short where Jacobus plays a blind man who kicks a lot of butt, and his feature-length efforts Contour (an action comedy) and Death Grip (a more serious martial arts drama co-starring former Power Ranger Johnny Yong Bosch).
Eagle-eyed viewers may spot director and rapper Boots Riley in Rope a Dope — Jacobus and Riley later worked together again on Sorry to Bother You, where Jacobus was a stunt coordinator and performer. 2018 in general was a big year for Jacobus as a fight choreographer, action director, and stunt coordinator, with his work on Sorry to Bother You (Netflix), Blindspotting (Tubi), and the Hindi action-comedy The Man Who Feels No Pain (Netflix) all released that year — not to mention God of War.
Ragnarök is no outlier, either — Jacobus’ video game bona fides are lengthy. In addition to serving as the action director on Destiny 2’s Season of the Worthy cinematic between Ana Bray vs the Scions, he’s been doing a lot of motion capture work recently. His non-Kratos motion capture credits include Spider-Man, Mortal Kombat 11, Call of Duty: Warzone, The Last of Us: Part II, and 2020’s Demon’s Souls, for which he was also the stunt coordinator.
In his interview on Scott Adkins’ Art of Action YouTube series, Jacobus talked at length about his passion for motion capture and using animation to express movement. He also talks about why he’s stuck with indie filmmaking all these years rather than jumping to big studio productions. It’s well worth the watch.
Jacobus also does a series of YouTube videos re-creating the move sets of Tekken and Street Fighter characters in real life (or, humorously, One-Punch Man), and played Waluigi in an action movie parody called Mario Warfare: The Complete Saga (note: I have not seen this one, but I am delighted it exists).
Lately, Jacobus has started making excellent YouTube videos educating people on martial arts cinema. I highly recommend his first video, which thoughtfully breaks down the history of kicking in cinema, but his second video on Donnie Yen’s legendary career is also excellent.
So now when you see Kratos nailing those animations in your next fight, you’ll know the action pedigree it comes from!