The Iron Claw rips your heart out in this beautiful drama reflecting the tragic story of one of wrestling’s most famous families.
Hollywood has typically shied away from the world of professional wrestling, a decision I’ve never really understood, considering the sheer volume of story telling potential within the industry. It always seemed like such a wasted well of opportunity (buzz word). One only need re-watch the acclaimed The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke to see how fascinating the business can be as a vehicle for cinematic Drama, to both diehard fans and skeptical novices alike.
There are a few comparisons between The Wrestler and The Iron Claw, not only from their subject manner, but their incredibly tragic stories. Unfortunately, while the work of The Wrestler certainly comes off as an authentic depiction of much of the real life aspects of professional wrestling, it is still a work of fiction. The Iron Claw, however, is based on true events. Incredibly, many of the liberties the film takes in altering events more often than not serve to light up the story and not bombard the audience with too much tragedy. It says a alot when the Hollywood script has to augment the true story to make it feel more “realistic”.
A harrowing tale that wrestlings will be familiar with, The Iron Claw chronicles the story of the Von Erich family, a wrestling dynasty in the state of Texas in the 70s and 80s. Even as someone who was familiar with the true events, I found myself wiping away the tears on numerous occasions throughout the film. Definitely not an easy viewing.
Difficult, but moving, enriching, and heartfelt, especially with the film’s conclusion, which manages to bring the story full circle, particularly with an outstanding performance from Zac Efron, who more than holds his own as the lead, portraying Kevin Von Erich. A beautiful performance that really brings the heart of the film to the forefront.
The entire cast knocks it out of the park, particularly Holt McCallany, who steals the show with his depiction of Fritz Von Erich.
While liberties were taken with the timeline, the details of events, and some notable commissions, particularly cutting out one of the Von Erich brothers entirely, the film is fantastic in its depiction and accuracy of the period. The sets and cinematography are stellar in depicting the feel and vibe of 70s and 80s wrestling.
I can’t see any wrestling fans of the period having anything but glowing reviews of the depiction of the time. From the crowds, the buildings, the promos from the WCCW: all feel like a step back in time to the period. There’s a bit of a miss on the depiction of Ric Flair, but that’s a minor blemish on an otherwise impeccable love letter to wrestling of yesteryear. While Flair might disappoint, the depiction of Harley Race is on point, as are all the other wrestlers in the film beyond the Von Erichs.
It’s hard to say I’m not biased, considering I watched the film sitting next to many of them, but the stunts and wrestling performed in the film was picture perfect. Nearly every wrestling extra was out of the WildKat Sports group, from J Spade and Matt Lancie, to to Danny Flamingo, Silas Mason and WildKat Champion Brady Pierce playing the Fabulous Freebirds. I’m beyond proud of the work they put into this authentic portrayal of a heartbreaking story, helped brought to life by coordinators Chavo Guerrero Jr. and WildKat’s own Luke Hawx.
It’s seems it would be a given that, with the scarcity of pro wrestling films in existence, anyone who loves the wrestling should see this movie. And while I would agree with that assumption, this film warrants higher praise than that. Not just a wrestling movie, but definitely near the top of the list for best ever produced. Not just a must for wrestling fans, but for anyone who loved heartfelt character dramas. Again, this is not an easy film to see, but an amazing story that I’d implore all to witness. Once this film gets its Iron claws in you, you’ll be glad you came along for the ride.