Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Murderball is an electrifying new documentary about men who play a sport I have never seen before called quad rugby (aka murderball). I love certain sports--baseball is at the forefront--but watching the all out violence of a quad rugby match played by men known as "disabled" is both thrilling and kind of inspiring.

The documentary introduces us to a variety of people--from those who play the sport, to their families and even their girlfriends. All topics of these men's lives are covered including how they were injured and its impact on their daily lives. And yes, this includes some frank discussion of sex (which was great to hear as its absence would have left a void in the film).

There are a lot of reasons this is a great documentary and one is the fact the film doesn't try to make the audience feel pity for these men. These guys are just normal guys who curse, make jokes and insult each other, talk about getting lucky with women, are as complicated as the rest of us and have the same competitive juices throbbing in their veins as other athletes.

The sheer emotion and passion that explodes out of these guys during matches is often riveting to watch. I would have loved to have seen even more of the actual game images as it's a compelling, violent sport with these metal, tricked out wheelchairs battering into one another over and over.

The film is centered on a feud/rivalry between one time USA player and now coach of Canada, Joe Soares, and the USA team--particularly player Mark Zupan--and who will win the gold medal at the Para-Olympics in Athens in 2004. The USA team is used to winning and Soares is seen as a traitor after switching sides to Canada.

Zupan is a captivating subject and just reeks of screen chemistry with his badass quad rugby ability, massive tribal tattoos, long goatee and penchant for dropping f-bombs. Zupan's face is usually a blazing scowl or this terrific grin he unfolds from time to time. Without Zupan this would not have been as interesting (of course the same can be said for Soares--a complex, screaming like a banshee while coaching, bull of a man).

Murderball is a raw, honest, lovingly crafted documentary about the testosterone-fueled sport of quad rugby and is one of my favorite films of the year.


Anonymous said...

5 star system would be great!

Brandon said...

I saw it this week too and I was blown away. It is the best sports documentary since Hoop Dreams and my favorite documentary since the one about the Spelling Bee kids that I have totally spaced out on and can't remember the name of.