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The Iron Claw

Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White Holt McCallany, Maura Tierney, Lily James
Rated R

Available to rent on AmazonPrimeVideo, Appletv, Vudu

First Impression: The Iron Claw is a heartbreaking family drama that depicts the rise and tragic fall of one of professional wrestling’s most legendary families: the Von Erichs.

When you think of professional wrestling today, you think of flashy big market productions with pyrotechnics galore, and dozens of tv cameras and interviews with these larger-than-life wrestlers—all vying for the most coveted prize in all of professional wrestling—the championship belt. With the belt comes fame, glory, riches and most importantly, the backing and respect of the business itself.

In today’s world the biggest wrestlers are more than likely working for the behemoth World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Over the last two decades WWE, led by the infamous Vince McMahon, has been able to conquer the world of professional wrestling, within which he holds an unofficial monopoly on the business as a whole.

If you want to be a star, you have to go through the system at WWE, and gain the trust of the McMahan family in order to go anywhere with your career as a professional wrestler. And that’s what makes the movie “The Iron Claw” so interesting. It takes place in the late 1970s through the mid-80s, when it truly was the wild west of pro wrestling. Most wrestling back then was divided up into territories, where certain wrestling promoters would control these territories and only their wrestlers could compete there. It was a very feudalistic system to say the least, but it led to a very passionate and loyal fan base for certain wrestling families and that is the era we are dropped into with this film: the Von Erich family.

The Von Erich family is led by patriarch Fritz Von Erich who runs the Dallas, Texas wrestling territory. Fritz is also a former wrestler who is shown as a tough emotionless guy who wants more than anything for his sons to become the most famous wrestlers that the world has ever seen. That’s quite a tall ask and immense pressure for the Von Erich brothers, but they love their father and their family and that’s really the strength of the film as a whole. These characters really care about each other and have each other’s backs no matter what.

And that’s also what makes the film so unbelievably tragic at times. We find out that there is something called the “Von Erich Curse” that all the family fears because of the sudden unexpected death of their oldest brother Jack who was electrocuted and drowned when he was just 6 years old. I don’t want to give away the rest of the movie, but there are more bewildering events that happened to the family that seem beyond the pale… but that makes for a very interesting film that will impact you on an emotional level.
Overall this is a solid film, a must-see for any former or current wrestling fan. And if you don’t know the difference between a piledriver and a powerbomb, this movie is just as accessible for you.

Final Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars