The Iron Claw
By Valerie Cameron
The Iron Claw
Directed by Sean Durkin
Based on the true story of one of the most well known familes in wrestling, the Von Erichs
I voted this cast as one of the best ensemble cast of 2023. Staring Zach Efron, Harris Dickinson, Jeremy Allen White, Lily James, Stanley Simons, Maura Tierney and Holt McCallany. I would argue that the performances in this movie are some if not the strongest for each of these actors in a film.
I knew nothing of this story and not much about the professional wrestling world. This movie sucked me in and I respect what every actor did with the material. The story folloes the inseparable Von Erich brothers, who were intensely competitive world of professional wrestling in the early 1980s. Their father played by Holt McCallany, was the original Iron Claw who never made it to the top of the wrestling arena. He was lucky enough to have four boys to mold into wrestling machines and try to bring how the best he never won.
Zach Efron plays the second oldest brother since the first sone of the family died by suicide in his younger years. If the film they don't cover this storyline. Kevin Von Erich is the prodogy his father was looking for. He seems to be the omst dedicated to wrestling and impressing his father to the point he has not life outside of traning, wrestling and his family. Effron is almost unrecognizable as Kevin. He trasformed his body to a combination of young Lue Farigno and Arnold Shwartzinager. With his physical transformation and his compeeling performace, he melts into this roll like nothing he has never done. I don't see his at all, I only see the detocated and heart heavey Kevin Von Erich.
Kevin and his family belive that their family is cursed and live a life of superstition along with trying to live up to their fathers hard hitting training schedule and parenting style.
Now we have the other brothers; Kerry, David and Mike. Kerry played by Jeremy Allen White was an Olympic hopeful until the US decided not to go to the Summer games of 1979. As soon as his olympic dreams were crushed, his dad plucked him up and added him to the roster of the family business of wrestling. David, played by Harris Dickenson, was alreayd trying to follow in Kevins footsteps and even though he was not as fit as his brother he had showman ship. This attrackted his dads attention and he was moved up in the ranks to take over Kevis top spot to get the title of NWA Missouri Heavey Weight Champion over Ric Flair in 1983, getting his father even closer to bring home the big belt.
With Kevin now just doing weekly circit fights, his dad pushes both David and Kerry to win the title of NWA World Chamionship. Kerry is the one to bring it home. Not long after Kerry's big win came the second tragedy of the family by sustaining a lofe changing injury. David is on tour over seas, Kevin is still doing circut fights and Kerry is temporarily out for the count. So where does dad go? He looks to his youngest son Mike. Mike has absolutly now interest in wrestling, sports or the family business. He is secretly in a a band and dreams to be a musician. His big brother Kevin belived that he should have never belonged on the ring. However, in this family their father and wrestling promoter made the rules and these brothers followed those rules.
By the end of the Von Erich empire of fighting all of the Von Erich brithers dies by suicide accept for Kevin. It's hard not to blame their on thoer fathers hardcore pressure and need to win. I think of the time these boys grew up and how fathers from his time tried to raise their kids. Ultimatly he was trying to raise men who would put family anf wrestling first and didn't know any other way. During this time there was also a strong and dutiful wife played by Maura Tierney. It is hard to play opposite these fierce amd talented male characters with such big screen presence. Yet everytime Tierney was on screen you knew it and you paid attention. Although she had a more quiet part, every look on her face and body language she emoted was stronge and not missed by the audeince.
All in all this movie was a big surpise for me. Such a stronge cast, smart writing and thoughtful cinamatography mases this film one of my favorites of 2023. See it in theatres. It is a theatre movie. You absolutly do not need to know anything about the wrestling world to relate to these characters and care about every minute of this tragic story.
Too 10 movie of the year!
In theaters now (December 22, 2023)