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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Rob Reviews "The Iron Claw"


World.  Class.  Championship.  Wrestling.

 

Any fan of the business knows those four words.  Whether you spent time in Texas or not, the Dallas-based promotion was a name that rose to both fame and infamy within the National Wrestling Alliance (later to become WCW for a time), and at the center of it all was the Von Erich family.  With a presence in professional wrestling to this day, the work ethic and determination that comes with that name has literally seen it all, and that rollercoaster is at the center of Sean Durkin’s The Iron Claw.

 

Starting with Fritz (Holt McCallany) in his heyday working the road with his wife, Doris (Maura Tierney), and his two young sons and working through the rise and eventual decline of the WCCW promotion, this is a true ensemble cast with Zac Efron as Kevin, Jeremy Allen White as Kerry, Harris Dickinson (currently also featured in A Murder at the end of the World) as David, and Stanley Simmons as Mike to tell their tragic story in one of the strongest team performances of the year.  Add to that Lily James as Pam, the woman who would become Kevin’s wife, who stands her ground against a family dynamic that is both strong and dysfunctional as well as Michael Harney as WCCW’s commentator and confidante Bill Mercer, this is a film that I could not keep my eyes off of.  With the involvement of those currently in the business like Ryan Nemeth, Chavo Guerrero, Jr., and Maxwell Jacob Friedman (also an executive producer) amongst other personalities across a number of national promotions, the in-ring sequences are done impressively on every level alongside top-notch cinematography by Mátyás Erdély (also responsible for earlier this year’s Foe), and a level of direction that knows exactly where the focus for the audience should be at each and every moment.

 

That being said, there may be those that may say that there is not enough time spent on the wrestling itself, it is important to note that the business is the secondary plotline to what this film is truly about and that is family, love, and loss under the microscope of an industry that was as hot as an any other form of sport or entertainment at the time.  While there are some things that are glossed over, the core story itself is intact with mentions of others involved both withing some powerful symbolism and mention in the end credits.  For those that want more information about the wrestling side of WCCW, I strongly recommend the independent documentary Heroes of World Class alongside the WWE-produced version in The Triumph and Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling

 

The Iron Claw is a story that fans worldwide have wanted to see told on the big screen for decades, and it is truly worth the wait.  Whether you are a fan of professional wrestling or not, this film should be a must-see.  From performance to production and storytelling, this film is an absolute masterpiece from every aspect, and I would be shocked if there is not a lot of recognition for it in the late winter and early spring.

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