Directed by Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 8/4/05
It's gotten big pub all year long on the
indie documentary circuit, so I finally got off my lazy arse and
checked out the festival favorite "Murderball" at the indie house on
Following the U.S. Wheelchair Rugby team
from the World Championships in 2002 to last year's World
Championships, "Murderball" deals with both the players on the U.S.
team and the coach of the Canadian team--former U.S. star Joe Soares--on
and off the court as they gear up to play each other at various
points throughout the year. The movie gives us a high-level
look at the sport and how much ass the Americans have been kicking
since wheelchair rugby--known initially as "murderball" due to its
high-velocity run-ins that leave most players with even more
physical pain than they are already enduring. We also get to
know some of the U.S. team's star players, like Mark Zupan and Scott
Hogsett, off the court as they deal with life as a quadriplegic in
the real world.
Much like my love for the story outside of
good ol' boy Morgan Spurlock's 30-day crash McD's diet in
Me", "Murderball" is interesting in its detail of the rugby
championships but it is phenomenal when we get off of it, be it
conversations about the sex life of a quadriplegic or about how a
guy that gets through life using only his elbows could possibly be
happy with his situation. That part of the film never gets
old--appreciating the ability just to be able to take a card out of
its envelope will drive some people to tears when they watch one kid
struggle with his going-away present mid-flick. We get to hear
about the various accidents that put each U.S. player in his
particular physical state; all of them are devastating, be it the
fault of a man's actions or just bad luck due to nature itself.
I loved every second of these sequences in the film.
In fact, it's the rugby itself that feels
intrusive; by only staging games in situations that matter most,
there isn't the same kind of dramatic buildup that a work of fiction
would have (obviously) so we are left with only watching these guys
play in world championship matches or qualifiers. The action
isn't as hard-hitting as the name indicates, taking away from its
vaunted reputation. And while the tale of the turncoat
Canadian head coach is interesting, all it provides is a bad guy for
the audience as they root their American brothers on to victory.
This wasn't that bad a thing for a
while...but, the film's last 15 minutes truly feel like the
filmmakers literally ran out of money, from the way the film runs
through the 2004 championships all the way through the end-ending of
the movie. It's rushed, it has a bit of an anti-climactic
result and worst of all, "Murderball" deals mostly with the rugby as
things are finishing out, which for me was bad because I was loving
the other stuff so much. The last frame pops up so quickly
that I didn't believe it was the real ending at first...and then the
credits started to roll, so I knew that I was hosed!!
Overall though, "Murderball" is a great
flick. It will leave you slack-jawed numerous times throughout
the movie, and this has to be considered a great frickin' thing.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard