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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Sports > Murderball (Documentary)

Murderball (Documentary)


Picture: C†††† Sound: C+†††† Extras: B+†††† Documentary: B



When the title Murderball first surfaced, more than a few people confused it with the awful remake of Rollerball a few years ago.No, it was not that, or a B-movie revival of the deathsport subgenre of Science Fiction films in the 1970s.Instead, it is an deservedly award winning documentary about quadriplegic rugby players and the stories of how they overcome potentially life destroying injuries or diseases (if not chronic conditions to begin with) to lead new lives and not be victims of circumstance.


The film has done well so far and is one of the top contenders (with the likes of Expo Ė Magic Of The White City, reviewed elsewhere on this site) as best documentary of 2005.Lionís Gate has issued the film in a terrific new DVD that delivers this great look at people and life, breaking ground in showing those with physical limits as above depressing stereotypes and giving us a dose of reality that breaks the monotony of bubblegum music and shopping malls.


Turns out this type of rugby game is a worldwide affair with teams representing each country.The story eventually boils down to Team Canada vs. Team U.S.A., in part because so much talent is on the U.S.A. team, that superplayer Joe Soares makes the tough decision of leaving his home countryís team (he loves the U.S.) and join Canada when he is passed over for promotion to run the U.S. team.His major rival who remains on Team U.S.A. is Mark Zupan, the man who would be U.S. king of the team.†† Mix the sport of these guys running into each other as hard as possible in their wheelchairs while going for the ball.That is why the title refers to the sport, which lives up to its name ironically, especially in cases where the players escaped death once and are closer to their mortality as a result.


Best of all, co-directors Henry-Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro just get so fortunate in al the great material they capture.The greatest thing that can be said about this program, which can never go on long enough, is its remarkable series of golden moments.In an era of phony reality TV, this is the real thing, no exploitation, humiliation, degradation and phony attempts to uplift.The reason for all the buzz, which is absolutely accurate for a change, is that it is so dense and well-rounded in its capturing of these lives.That is not easy and takes real heart, soul and talent on the part of the filmmakers to capture all of this.The great thing is there is even more heart, soul and talent on the part of the subjects and Rubin & Shapiro are up to the job of putting it together.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image originated on digital video, but not the High Definition type, so there are all kinds of detail limits, depth problems, aliasing and other flaws.However, this is a documentary and high fidelity is not as expected.The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is simple at best and good considering how much of this is just taped on the scene, though music was added later. Extras are many, including some great deleted scenes, segments from Larry King Live and Jackass series promoting the film, commentary by the documentarians, commentary by some of the players, premiere, Behind The Game behind the scenes piece, THINK MTV Disability Awareness piece, update on Soares, and trailers for other Lionís Gate titles.Murderball is a classic documentary and this loaded single DVD does justice to one of the great documentary triumphs of recent years.If you have not seen it, what are you waiting for?!?



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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