Sports biopic The Iron Claw is based on the Von Erich wrestling family from Texas. Patriarch Fritz Von Erich (Holt McCallany) failed to obtain the mantle of World Heavyweight Champion during his wrestling career, and now it falls to one of his many sons to obtain it. In 1979, Kevin (Zac Efron) becomes the Texas Heavyweight Champion and seems to be on the road to becoming the World Champion and Fritz makes a deal with ESPN to begin broadcasting matches weekly.
Kevin is seemingly on the road to becoming the World Heavyweight Champion when his brother, David (Harris Dickinson), debuts in a tag-team match and proves more charismatic. During this time, Kevin meets Pam (Lily James); he tells her about the Von Erich curse, the last name that leads to tragedy, an ominous sign of things to come. After a disappointing fight with the current World Champion, Kevin is outshined by David’s ability to be a natural entertainer and gets passed over for the chance at the title. Kerry (Jeremy Allen White), another Von Erich brother, joins the wrestling scene after the USA boycotts the 1980 Summer Olympics, and the three brothers begin fighting as a three-person team.
After the three brothers win a championship, David is chosen to fight for the World Heavyweight Championship out of the three. But the Von Erich curse comes into play, and Kerry takes David’s place, finally bringing home the mantle. The last brother, Micheal, more musician than wrestler, decides to begin training, but then the curse comes to call yet again, and soon enough, Kevin is the only living son. Kevin takes over the family business and then sells it, leaving wrestling behind to be with his family.
Going into this film, I did not know the Von Erich family. I’m not a wrestling fan; I find it a bit cheesy. However, I’ve watched some matches, but not by choice. I decided to take a chance on the film because of Zac Efron.
The acting was the best part of this film. Zac Efron was unrecognizable at some points in the movie, and you could tell he was really into his role as Kevin. He was an excellent choice to be the lead of the film. Efron, White, Dickenson, and Simons had great brother chemistry, and their portrayal of Texas country boys was spot on. As the Von Erich patriarch, McCallany was very good. He oozed with intimidation and was quite frightening.
For the most part, Sean Durkin’s directing and choices were good. I liked the cinematography; the fading in and out, the use of black and white, and the film quality of the period covered were all well done. The stand-out scene for me was the reunion of the brothers in a better place. However, I had a major issue with the shaky cam technique, especially initially; it made me feel queasy.
Thus far, this review has been pretty positive, so why only four stars? Towards the end, this movie got so dull and started to drag on. I checked my watch repeatedly, and the people behind me were sleeping – I know this because they were snoring. So, while it started strong, it petered out due to the drawn-out runtime. I would still recommend it, especially if you’re a wrestling fan.
The Iron Claw will be released in the UK on 9th February 2024
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I’m a Data Analyst, from the land of Matthew McConaughey. I’m an avid movie-goer and love seeing films in theaters. My most recent favorite films are Good Time, Only Lovers Left Alive, TENET, and England is Mine. When I’m not at the movies, I’m either reading or watching obscene amount of true crime and historical documentaries.