Murderball

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Murderball is a tough, intense sport that combines elements of rugby, basketball, and roller derby, all in one sometimes brutal package. The sport is not for everyone and in fact, the players are all quadriplegics, which means they play in wheelchairs. But that doesn’t mean the action isn’t fast and furious and the competition isn’t brutal, as these men push themselves far beyond normal limitations. The competitive spirit in these men runs deep, so deep that even a life altering event like paralysis can’t slow them down. Mark Zupan is the star of the US Murderball squad, while his former teammate Joe Soares defects to coach the Canadian team. The rivalry between the two is beyond intense and of course, a showdown is imminent. But if the two do cross paths in Murderball, who will emerge as the victor?

I had heard a lot of buzz about Murderball and while I am not really a sports fan, I knew this would be more about the people involved. The movie tells the stories of men who play wheelchair rugby, but the real focus is on who they are, not the sport they engage in. More to the point, the competitive nature in them, a drive so strong, it would not vanish even when they became handicapped. The stories involved can be inspirational at times, not just because of the handicaps involved either, as one man endures a heart attack and begins to right some of the wrongs in his personal life. The emotion is real and the filmmakers make it easy to connect with the subjects, but Murderball has some flaws also. The conclusion is rather flat, but this is common in documentaries, so I can’t be too harsh about that. Murderball is a more than solid documentary that provides insight and inspiration, so I give it a recommendation as a rental.

Video: How does it look?

Murderball is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. This transfer is decent, but not that great and has a fair share of problems. A lot of the movie was shot on video and it shows, as the image is less than refined in several aspects. I saw a lot, and I mean a lot of edge enhancement, to the point that some scenes were hard to watch, which is bad news. But most of the time, the transfer is passable, though quite limited due to the source materials.

Audio: How does it sound?

The included Dolby Digital 5.1 option is well crafted, but don’t expect too much, given the documentary nature of the movie. The surrounds are used only to enhance the musical soundtrack, which is good, because the nature of the material isn’t given to dynamic presence. So the music spices up the audio presence a little, but never distracts from the movie itself. The dialogue is clean and never poses an issue, so in the end, this treatment is solid all around.

Supplements: What are the extras?

You can listen to two audio commentary tracks here, one with three of the Murderball players and a second track with the filmmakers. The players pretty much joke around and provide a laid perspective, while of course, the filmmakers are more technical. I wasn’t taken with either session enough to listen to the entire track, but fans of the movie might be more willing. You can also watch the entire Larry King Live show with the Murderball players, as well as the Jackass episode devoted to Murderball. This disc also includes deleted scenes, an update on Joe Soares, and a behind the scenes featurette.

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