The Iron Claw – Movie Reviews by Ry!

The Iron Claw – Wrestling with Hope and Tragedy: The Von Erich’s

Life is like a journey upon the open waters.  You set sail in hopes of calm, but the unknown calamities await.  Life’s tales provide a source for storytelling, a creative escape that can leave an everlasting mark for years to come.  In this review, I look at a film that captures life’s tale.  In a journey about a wrestling family, it is a path of hope, hardship, and pain.  With a strong lead among many, The Iron Claw is a riveting tale about what it means to be … wrestling brothers. 

This is a story about the Von Erich brothers, and their tragic journey that defined the early days of wrestling.  When it comes to real life adaptations (in film), the candid appeal starts with the characters.  In the beginning, we are introduced to the Von Erich’s through a voiceover narration that focuses on the father, Fritz Von Erich (Holt McCallany).  This leads into the first act where Fritz is steadfast in building his family’s name through the regional wrestling promotion, WCCW, in the late 70’s/early 80’s.  From here, the film moves along this linear directive that builds up this plot point through Fritz’s eldest son (and main character), Kevin (Zac Efron).  He becomes the face of the family in wrestling, building a characterization of both his father’s pride and a hopeful symbol for his brothers.  As the film moves into the second act, it continues along a methodical journey that weaves between characterization and the familial motif.  As Kevin focuses on rising in his wrestling career, the flow of each situation is propped up by his strong bond with his brothers: Kerry (Jeremy Allen White), David (Harris Dickinson) and Mike (Stanley Simons).  As you see these four characters interact, it builds a journey within the wholesome appeal of brotherhood.  Each moment becomes a staple within the heights of each brother’s distinction, creating a fragility that weaves between recognition and personal worth.  As each brother tries to move in and out from their father’s shadow, the mounting choices become a reflection of what it really means to be a Von Erich. 

As things start to unravel, it becomes a moment of reflection for the brothers.  These ‘real-life’ aspects are strong but fall prey to the clichés of a telegraph directive.  Even with some generalizations, it is the heartiness of the characters (strong acting) that provides a window of ironic hope in tragedy, lifting the material above predictability.  With the family at the typical ‘story’ crossroads, we head into a third act that becomes a place of realization and familial growth.  This leads to a revelation like climax and epilogue.  The Iron Claw is a true story film that breaks clichés with endeavors and grace.  If you are a fan of true story films, wrestling or actors involved, this is one for you.  A strong character film that is worth seeing on the big screen.

Full Score – 4 out of 5 (Full Price)

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