The Iron Claw (Blu-ray)

The true story of the inseparable Von Erich brothers, who made history in the intensely competitive world of professional wrestling in the early 1980s.

March 25, 2024 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

I was unfamiliar with the story of the Von Erich family prior to seeing The Iron Claw, but it is a fascinating and tragic story of brotherhood, who shared their love of the sport of wrestling together. If one didn’t know that this was a fact-based film, it might be easy to dismiss much of what’s seen as melodrama. Well, it is true, albeit with some liberties taken. It also shows what a great actor Zac Efron can be if given the right material. But really, it’s a film filled with great performances across the board and demands a viewing, even if it may do a number after a while. That is it is a film filled with countless tragedies.

We begin in 1979 with Kevin (Zac Efron) as one of the many Von Erich brothers we’ll meet. Kevin is the oldest brother after the death of his older brother as a child. The other brothers we’re introduced to here are Kerry (Jeremy Allen White), David (Harris Dickinson) and Mike (Stanley Simons). Their father, Fritz (Holt McCallany) was once a pro-wrestler, but has taken to doing promotions, and he’s largely trying to get his boys where they need to be with their wrestling careers. In an early scene, we hear him discuss the rankings of his favorite sons in order, while reminding them that the order can change at any time. We see these brothers work their way up and make names for themselves, but it doesn’t take long before tragedy strikes. Some may know the story behind the film, but I will still refrain from spoiling the specifics as seeing it unfold over the course of the film should keep the viewer invested. Wrestling fans should enjoy those sequences but do note that this is not an outright sports film so much as a story about a family faced with several tragedies but kept plowing ahead. What’s interesting here too is that while Kevin maintains the spotlight, we see the other brothers get their moment to shine, and the hurdles they face.

The Iron Claw isn’t always an easy film to sit through, but it kept me with it during the run time. I got sad at several points, but I loved the bonding and brotherhood that is on display here. It all feels authentic and earned, and never forced. I can see why these brothers enjoy wrestling and each other’s company while they are doing it. Director Sean Durkin spoke of how he deliberately kept one of the brothers out of the picture as he said it would’ve simply been too many deaths for one film. I can see that argument. Still, the film needs to be seen whether one is familiar with the true story or not. It makes me want to know more about this family. I would like to see a documentary sometime as well. Recommended.

Video: How’s it look?

As I was looking for a featured image for this review I got a bit frustrated. Many of the stills that were put out for this film simply don’t look good. Blurry, out of focus and the like. But that’s a far cry from how this movie appears on Blu-ray. It was shot on film and the 1.85:1 AVC HD encode will fill the majority of your screen with images so surreal and lifelike, you’ll feel as if you were watching the wrestling matches on the front row. From the ripped physique of the cast to the dark, somewhat somber wrestling arenas where the action takes place – nothing is compromised. Yes, Zac Efron is ripped beyond belief and also beyond belief is how bad his haircut is. But that’s neither here nor there. Suffice it to say that if you’re looking for a high-quality image, this one delivers a knockout blow.

Audio: How’s it sound?

I’m of the mindset that any and all sports movies, especially those that focus on wrestling or football should have a Dolby Atmos track. It just makes sense. Well we don’t get that here, but we get a DTS HD Master Audio mix that’s nearly as good as some Dolby Atmos counterparts out there. The roars of the crowd, the thud when bodies collide and the slamming of flesh to the ground have never sounded more lifelike and realistic than they do here. Vocals are top notch as well and surrounds offer a nice, wide array of ambiance that’s sure to keep the viewer entertained. It’s a nice, well-rounded mix that heightens the mood, for sure.

Supplements: What are the extras?

  • Brotherhood is Forever: Making The Iron Claw – This 30 minute feature is all we’d expect with interviews from the cast and crew as well as lone survivor – Kevin Von Erich.
  • Cast and Crew Q & A – Filmed in December 2023 this features the cast and crew answering, you guessed it, questions from the audience.
  • Theatrical Trailer

The Bottom Line

Certainly not an easy film to sit through due to the tragedies on display. Still, The Iron Claw is a sad and effective film about brotherhood and wrestling involving a family who had to overcome endless hurdles in their lives. Lionsgate’s Blu-ray, as expected, looks great and sounds just as good. Fans should pick this one up.

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