6.8/10
2,549
12 user 36 critic

Knuckle (2011)

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An epic 12-year journey into the brutal and secretive world of Irish Traveler bare-knuckle fighting. This film follows a history of violent feuding between rival clans.

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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
James Quinn McDonagh
Michael Quinn McDonagh
Paddy Quinn McDonagh
Ian Palmer ...
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Storyline

An epic 12-year journey into the brutal and secretive world of Irish Traveler bare-knuckle fighting. This film follows a history of violent feuding between rival clans.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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Twelve years. Three clans. One war.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent content and language | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Šake  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$2,647 (USA) (9 December 2011)

Gross:

$2,647 (USA) (9 December 2011)
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User Reviews

raw but riveting documentary about bare knuckle fighting
10 August 2011 | by (sydney, Australia) – See all my reviews

Director Ian Palmer had a contact with Irish 'traveller' families and he became interested in their ways. In particular he sought out the semi-ritualized bare knuckle fights which solve (and re-kindle) their feuds. This feature-length documentary has been gestating for over a decade. Palmer's film partly appeals because of the secret nature of the age-old practice and the raw brutality of some of the moments caught on film. It grabs the same part of the psyche that responds when the ugly cage fighting is on (Cable) TV. Of course bare knuckle fighting isn't the invention of the 'tinkers' – it was common throughout England in the 19th century – it just looks weird now as an atavistic survival amongst these sprawling, huge, feud-locked families. Some of Palmer's subjects are great documentary material, especially his lead character who keeps fighting (and winning) but who has begun to felt heart-sick at the whole thing. You can also see the well springs of renewal in the adoring faces of the little boys who shadow box and dance around him as he comes home victorious. This is what it means to be a real man in this community. The old men are involved too, usually as referees (there are rules as we discover when young aspirant loses the plot and is disqualified for a bit of the old Mike Tyson face-biting). Away from the blood lust and excitement of the back lots and lanes, the members of the various feuding families – the Quinns and the Joyces – pontificate on what the point of it all is. "It's not just wars", says one man, "it means something." But the remark hangs in the air precisely because, as Palmer's haunting doco shows, this might no longer be true, if it ever was. There is individual heroism here but increasingly the sad idea takes hold that this dying form is just a huge cannibalistic waste of community energies.


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