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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Sports > Arm Wrestling > Pulling John (2009/IndiePix DVD)

Pulling John (2009/IndiePix DVD)


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



Arm wrestling may be seen by most as a pastime, but there is a legitimate sport and years ago, the Sylvester Stallone dud Over The Top tried to make it more visible.  Now, we get the Vassiliki Khonsari/Sevan Mattossian documentary Pulling John (2009), and it is easily the funniest and most amusing documentary about competition since King Of Kong.


The title refers to the longtime champion John Brzenk, who was a star in the Stallone film, holding the title for the many years since that was released.  He now faces a new generation of challengers, but only two could possibly be the next successor: West Virginian Travis Bagent and Russian Alexey Voevoda.  They are both interesting on and off the table, both have their own approaches, personalities and distinctions.  Both will eventually face each other too.


Bagent is the fired-up braggart who thinks he can do anything, loves himself and wants to be the next champion, but his overconfidence leaves him the most vulnerable of the three.  Voevoda trains very hard, is laid back, has a very realistic view of the world and makes some interesting comments (like women wanting men I Russia with money versus a “real man” like himself) that show character that will help him stay grounded.  We also see much of John and learn all about the sport and its history.


I never imagined this would be so good, but it is and if it finds its audience, it will achieve what the Stallone film failed to do in really showing arm wresting as more than just a pastime.  I liked everyone competing and the best part is you will see a standard of professionalism and respect you don’t see in other sports enough.  Very interesting and recommended, Pulling John is highly entertaining.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image also looks pretty good with all of its location video, but it can also be soft and have a little motion blur throughout and it is still a documentary.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo is not bad throughout, but you do get some dropouts from location recording and those instances are often captioned.  Extras include a comic book, Director’s Commentary, Additional Trailers and 50+ minutes of additional footage, some of which should have stayed in.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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