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More than merely a sports documentary or an inspirational profile of triumph over adversity, "Murderball" offers a refreshing and progressive attitude toward disability while telling unforgettable stories about uniquely admirable people. It's ostensibly a film about quadriplegic rugby (or "Murderball," as it was formerly known), in which players with at least "some" loss of physical function in all four limbs navigate modified wheelchairs in a hardcore, full-contact sport that takes them all the way to the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece, in 2004. But as we get to know paralyzed or amputee players on Team USA like Andy Cohn, Scott Hogsett, Bob Lujano and charismatic team spokesman Mark Zupan, we come to understand that quad rugby is a saving grace for these determined competitors, who battle Team Canada coach (and former Team USA superstar) Joe Soares en route to the climactic contest in Athens. Simply put, "Murderball" is the best film to date about living with a severe disability, but codirectors Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro avoid the sappy, inspirational sentiment that hampers nearly all mainstream films involving disability. By the time this blazing 85-minute film reaches its emotional conclusion, the issue of disability is almost irrelevant; these guys are as normal as anyone, and their life stories led to "Murderball" becoming the most critically acclaimed documentary of 2005. "--Jeff Shannon"
|Actors:||Joe Soares, Keith Cavill, Mark Zupan, Joe Bishop, Andy Cohn|
|Director:||Dana Adam Shapiro|
|Number of Discs:||1|
|Studio:||Velocity / Thinkfilm|
|Run Time:||88 minutes|
|DVD Release Date:||November 29, 2005|
|Average Customer Rating:|| based on 70 reviews|
|Average Customer Review: ( 70 customer reviews )
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 13 found the following review helpful:
An incredible sports documentary Feb 11, 2006
By David Bonesteel
This powerful documentary should serve as an antidote to anyone who ever felt uncomfortable around a person in a wheelchair. The individuals profiled, all participants in the full-contact sport of wheelchair rugby, are independent and demand to be regarded without pity. They are fierce competitors in a grueling sport, going for the gold in the Paralympics in a 12-country competition.
Although several people are featured, the central figures are Marc Zupan and Joe Soares. Marc is currently among the top players in the sport, a charismatic man whose zest for life will not be diminished. Joe, a former superstar, is at first bitter about the way age has robbed him of his skills; a dramatic and unexpected development midway through the film seems to transform the way he looks at life and his relationship with his son.
Like the best documentaries, "Murderball" offers a glimpse into the lives of people that have much to teach us. Recommended.
4 of 4 found the following review helpful:
Important Film To Watch Feb 14, 2006
By Lydia's Mommy
This film taught a lot. It taught how stupid (usually alcohol-related) accidents in your youth can turn your world upside down, but it also taught how to come to terms with tragedy and remain true to yourself and your desires. These guys don't let their disabilities keep them on the sidelines, or keep them from finding girlfriends who would probably be a "catch" in anyone's book. They never sell themselves short. I think this would be a great film to show kids, to teach them to never judge people in wheelchairs and to treat everyone the same... all that good stuff. But, it is totally inappropriate for young viewers because of all the profanity and the bit about quadripelgic sex. It is a shame to me that a film with such an uplifting and important message has an R rating. But I still very much enjoyed this documentary.
3 of 3 found the following review helpful:
A fascinating look at dedicated athletes Mar 02, 2006
This is a lively documentary about wheelchair rugby athletes on the road to the Para-Olympics in Athens. We are introduced to Mark Zupan, the outspoken hot-shot of the team, Joe Soares, a former teammate who now coaches America's rival, the Canadian team, and several others. They all describe how they became quadriplegics, how their lives have been affected, and how much they love this sport (originally named "murderball"). Each man is passionately devoted to the sport and their enthusiasm is contagious, even though it's a very, very rough and demanding sport. We also meet a young man in a rehab facility who has just had a spinal cord injury and see him excited for the first time at the thought of playing wheelchair rugby.
This film opened a whole new world to me; it was exciting, surprising, and definitely inspiring. I'm glad that it was nominated for an Academy Award.
5 of 6 found the following review helpful:
Tremendous movie, no captioning though???? Feb 10, 2007
By G. Long
This is a great sports flick whether you care about disability or not. I'm disappointed that it's not captioned. I teach a university course on disability and would include this movie in a heartbeat. I can't, however, because it's not accessible to everyone in the class. Bummer.
2 of 2 found the following review helpful:
A documentary without the fluff Sep 29, 2008
Most documentaries or movies with the handicapped that I have seen fall into one of two categories: 1) Complete fluff where everyone is sympathetic and incredibly inspiring, or 2) Patronizing. Murderball follows neither lead, and comes up completely humanistic and original.
Essentially it's the story of the US Olympic Wheelchair Rugby team, and their quest to win the gold. Among their rivals is their most hated enemy: the Canadians. Within this setup, we see happiness and elation, as well as agony, embarrassment, and frustration. As if he were cast for the role of confrontational antagonist, the Canadian team is led by Joe Soares, a foul-mouthed former pioneer and legend of US Wheelchair Rugby who many consider a traitor. He didn't make the US team on his last try-out and he's vulgarly, bitterly protested ever since. His counterpart is the US superstar Mark Zuban, a somewhat brash player who typifies the younger, aggressive generation, but still manages to become the face of quad-rugby, inspiring others through seminars and discussions.
Given that the documentary is named Murderball, I expected much more action and many more brutal hits from the armored wheelchairs that are used during competition. There isn't nearly enough focus given to the sport itself. Instead, the drama surrounding personal lives was the true focus, a borderline voyeuristic look into the players' lives. There were no corners cut, nor were there falsehoods. Those who are quadriplegic can find love and happiness, and will almost inevitably face further life difficulties. What struck me was the balance between positive traits and negative flaws, where one can be humble yet heroic, and another could be internally frail yet outwardly, defiantly strong.
It's a great character study and very compelling. It achieves its purpose: showing that the quad rugby players are just like us "normal" people. I highly recommend it.
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