Monday, October 1, 2012

30 in 30 - Day 1: Murderball

Welcome to the first day of my 30 in 30 sports documentary posts.

My goal is to give you a quick synopsis of the film, some key vital stats and of course - my review.

I'm hoping to standardize the look of these posts and hope you enjoy the next month of my journey.

The first film to make the list (and by the way....the list was created randomly) is Murderball.

Murderball (2005)
85 mins
Rated: R (some vulgar language and sexual content)

"A film about paraplegics who play full-contact rugby in Mad Max-style wheelchairs - overcoming unimaginable obstacles to compete in the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece."  (source: imdb)

Link to the film - I watched it online via Vimeo

The opening scene of the film gives the viewer a quick glimpse and appreciation for (what is to us) one of the simple tasks we take for granted each day - getting dressed.

Immediately, I felt a little uncomfortable watching US Quad Rugby player Mark Zupan take minutes to do, with purpose and precision, what takes me literally seconds - and with little or no thought.

Quickly that feeling faded as I am introduced to a number wheelchair rugby players and their efforts out on the court.

We are at the 2002 World Championships in Sweden and Team USA is in the gold medal game against Team Canada.

This is where we meet Joe Soares.  He is the coach for Team Canada and at one time was (and to him still is) the greatest rugby player of all time.  He played for Team USA at the time and his relationship with his former team is without question a strained one.

Without giving too much away, we go from the 2002 World Championships to the training for the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.  Along the way, we meet Mark Zupan and Joe Soares outside the rugby court.

We learn more about how they became confined to a wheelchair, their struggles and triumphs.  We also meet other players and their personal stories.  In addition, we meet some individuals who have just recently been rehabbing from a serious spinal injury.

The bulk of the film focuses on the off-court lives of these players - something that didn't really bother me, but I would have liked to have seen more rugby action.

Three-quarters of the way through the film, we make it to Athens and the 2004 Paralympic Games.  For Mark Zupan, you can clearly see how this moment is the pinnacle of his sporting career.  He is extremely proud not only to represent the USA, but to represent wheelchair rugby.

The film left me feeling pretty upbeat about what the guys on these teams have and can accomplish.  A definite positive note.

The production value of this doc is pretty unpolished.  No fancy camerawork, no fancy interview settings.  It's much like the sport on the court - rough and in-your-face.

As I mentioned earlier, I would have liked to have seen more actual rugby  playing.  And the bulk of the sports action was goals.  Very little hitting.  This film is called Murderball - I didn't see much to indicate that.

There were a few scenes - like the one to start the film off, where watching such simple tasks take time....lots of time really makes me think and appreciate what I take for granted.

These guys are really an inspiration - not because they are "getting out there" in their wheelchair, but because these guys are pushing themselves to the limit.  They are sharing their knowledge to others and trying to grow the sport - and in some instances, give others an outlet to strive and eventually succeed.

I remember back in 2005 when this movie came out.  There was a lot of hype around this film.  It doesn't quite hold up.  I think it's a good film, but it didn't knock my socks off.

A solid watch, but it has some holes.

3 out of 5

Here are some other reviews I found online for the film...

Rotten Tomatoes

Roger Ebert


Next up...Magic & Bird: A Courtship Of Rivals

1 comment:

  1. Agreed. I remember the hype as well and just recently watched it myself a couple of months ago. A good movie, but not spectacular. 3/5 seems about right for me, too.