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Running Time:
85 minuutes

Rating: R Restricted. Under 17 Requires Accompanying Adult.

Rating Explanation:
for language and sexual content

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
A brilliant documentary that's both entertaining and gripping. It overturns all your preconceptions about quadriplegics, and with no apologies to the squeamish, shows that being confined to a wheelchair doesn't mean that life and joy is over.

Additional Info:
DVD Features: Keith Getting His Chair; Greatest Hits; Kids Question Period; MTV Jackass with Zupan; Update on Players; Life According to Zupan; Rules of the Game; ESPN US Quad Rugby Championship Interviews; National Spinal Cord Injury Conference; Sundance Footage; Zupan Reebok Photo Shoot; Charlie Rose Special; Deleted Scenes.

The title "Murderball" tells it all in this brilliant documentary about tough, highly competitive rugby players in wheelchairs, featuring fierce rivalry, gripping suspense, and larger-than-life personalities. Photographed, by writer and co-director/-producer Dana Adam Shapiro, photographer and co-director Henry-Alex Rubin, and co-producer Jeffrey Mandel.

Contrary to most misconceptions, depending on the nature and location of their spinal injuries, quadriplegics have varying degrees of impairment and movement in their four limbs, and are able, and do, engage in a broad range of physical activities. This includes sex, which, along with sports competition, is important because many of those so disabled are still quite young and verile.

The participants are largely members of Team USA and Team Canada, fiery rivals between the 2002 Wheelchair Rugby World Championships in Sweden and the Athens 2004 Paralympics (not Special Olympics). Quad rugby is played in open but heavily reinforced wheelchairs, without helmets, in a full-contact mix of hockey, basketball, American football and team handball. Without excess of fashionable trash talking, but with plenty of adrenaline, screaming and high-voltage pep talks, players, coaches and officials are physically as well as mentally tough, neither asking nor giving quarter among themselves, loved ones or those non-impaired who condescend to them.

The players are all men, crippled by vehicular accidents or disease, although near the end the film some returning, similarly challenged GIs are featured, an aspect that was sensitively fictionalized in "The Best Years of Our Lives" in the late '40's, *The Men" in the 50's and "Born on the Fourth of July" in the late '80s. Here the audience is taken inside the real action, but still with all the intensity of those earlier fictional films.

With primary focus on a selected few participants, the film reveals the competitiveness of human nature, not the anger or self-pity you might expect. It shows the particularly personal rivalry between the tattooed devil-red-goateed US superstar Mark Zupan and Peter Boyle-lookalike Joe Soares, Canada’s coach following his being cut, unfairly, he claims, by Team USA. Whatever the reason, the film suggests that years of rehab has stripped them of false vanity, leaving them unselfconsciously frank with the camera.

In addition to introducing their parents, wives and girlfriends, other complicated relationships are documented including an unforgettable segment when Zupan tells about his life-altering automobile accident with his high school buddy Christopher Igoe drunk at the wheel; and in a parallel yet separate story about a recent “quad” (young Keith Cavill), who goes through rehabilitation, returns home and is difficult, insisting on looking at his fatal dirt bike and helmet, and ultimately becomes inspired by seeing and testing out a quad rugby wheelchair, realizing that perhaps there's a chance that he too might become a future Murderball star.

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