Quad rugby as played by the US team, between 2002 games in Sweden and the 2004 Paralympics in Athens. Young men, most with spinal injuries, play this rough and tumble sport in special chairs, seated gladiators. We get to know several and their families. They talk frankly about their injuries, feelings in public, sex lives, competitiveness, and love of the game. There's also an angry former team member gone north to coach the Canadian team, tough on everyone, including his viola-playing son. We meet a recently injured man, in rehab, at times close to despair, finding possible joy in quad rugby. After Athens, the team meets young men injured in war: the future stars of Team USA.Written by
Having seen one of the most brilliant documentaries several years ago called Hoop Dreams, I though there could be nothing that could even come close to its raw passion and emotional power. After witnessing Murderball, I realized I was wrong.
This documentary that follows a select group of quadriplegic athletes provides just the perfect amount of tension and joy, as witnessing the former trials of Arthur Agee, and William Gates and family in Chicago.
Some background is given on the sport as to how it's played (no less ironically on a basketball court), but Murderball's greatest asset is the depth in which it probes the players backgrounds and challenges, and our understanding of what it means to be in a chair (more than likely) the rest of your life.
Like Hoop Dreams, it isn't the games or the run up to the championship that becomes the most exciting part (as great as that may be), but is found in the little moments when a father makes an effort to be at his sons recital, an old friend comes to watch his buddy at the paralympics in Greece, a recent quadriplegic first gets into a "mad chair" for the first time, or a group of players confront a former coach and mention his "treasonous" grounds. It is the access the filmmakers have gotten to not just film games, but to be at the right place at the right time in these players lives. That is what separates a brilliant documentary from just a good one, also the filmmakers and distributors have believed in this film, and it contains some very slick production work to boot.
In the end, the audience for the most part who will be watching this as able bodied people, will come out with a sense of glowing pride for these athletes who play this crazy (perhaps) insane sport. This movie more than anything is about EMPOWERMENT, and the drive that succeeds in us all. When you watch these people in action you suddenly even begin to question how much you shouldn't complain about the everyday nuisances compared to what these players deal with on a regular basis.
It breaks down the barriers we people have towards individuals in wheelchairs to realize, that you know these people aren't always reflecting on what happened in their life as a lost chance, that they are okay, and more importantly you know what.. some of them may dam well be real jerks, but you know what.. that's okay too. But by golly, don't you dare even feel for sorry for them, just be glad that if you have a Zupan, Bob Lujano, or an Andy Cohn in your corner you may just have one of the coolest friends on the planet, and be a lucky person indeed. Cause for the most part they probably stand taller than you in every way.
Rating 9 out of 10
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