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
Best Documentary of the 2005 Sundance Film Festival
"Murderball" was the best documentary I viewed at the recent 2005 Sundance Film Festival. It won the audience award, which is what really counts as opposed to the bogus grand jury prize award (which went to "Why We Fight" - a leftist film).
"Murderball" does an amazing job of juxtaposing scenes of the quadriplegic rugby players documenting their familial environments and dealing with their personal demons, with the fast-paced, adrenaline-packed scenes of rugby. You'd have to be a robot to not be touched by the heartfelt and poignant stories - such as that of the intense Jeff Zupan (who was rendered a quad because at the age of 16 he passed out in his buddys flatbed drunk, and then his buddy went out dwi and crashed, flinging Zupan's body 60 ft. into a nearby stream, where he hung onto a tree branch for 13 hours before help arrived on the scene). The scenes of the abrasive Joe Soares are also great - documenting his family dynamic and his relationship with his bright, effeminate son.
Also included are a series of animation sequences that amazingly capture the character's dreams of flight (with all their limbs).
However, my personal favorite scenes are the rugby sequences, in particular the heated rivalry documented between Team USA and Team Canada. Joe Soares, a former quad-rugby legend for USA, was shunned at a tryout in '96, didn't make the team, and in a brazen act of defiance went to coach Team Canada against the Americans at the quad-Olympics, knowing all their plays. This compelling scenario sets the stage for one of the best documentaries you'll ever see - a triumph of the heart, and human spirit - truly inspirational.
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