The Iron Claw (2023)
R ‧ Drama/Wrestling Biopic ‧ 132 Minutes
Written by Sean Durkin
Directed by Sean Durkin
Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson, Stanley Simons, Maura Tierney, with Holt McCallany and Lily James
(In their own words). The true story of the inseparable Von Erich brothers, who made history in the intensely competitive world of professional wrestling in the early 1980s. Through tragedy and triumph, under the shadow of their domineering father and coach, the brothers seek larger-than-life immortality on the biggest stage in sports.
High-Flying Hits of the Film
The BEST things about the film
- The Wrestling – They did an excellent job with the cinematography, interestingly capturing the wrestling matches.
- The Brotherly Love – The relationship between the brothers was wonderfully portrayed in both the soulful writing and acting performances. You really felt how much the Von Erichh brothers loved each other and wanted to be together.
- The Story – A profoundly engaging and compelling story. I was riveted to see how it all ended, which I had a minor inkling of from my life knowledge.
The WORST things about the Film
- Ric Flair – There’s really one moment that stands out as wrong. Aaron Dean Eisenberg plays a small role in the film as the NWA Wrestling champion, Ric Flair. Ric Flair is an iconic wrestler; any wrestling fan knows how he talks and behaves. During the movie, Flair delivers a “promo video”. A promo is a monologue that wrestlers perform to the camera, calling out other wrestlers or elevating themselves. This promo has to be the WORST Ric Flair impression I’ve ever seen. Understand, this isn’t a role that you should try to reinterpret what the character was like. It would be like someone playing Ray Charles or Elvis, but they just deliver terrible impressions of him. It was so bad for me, an old fan of Ric Flair, that it completely jolted me out of the movie. I couldn’t understand why this actor was cast in the role when there had to be dozens or hundreds of people who could do this role justice. It is a brief role, but it’s an essential character to get correct.
The film title, Iron Claw, refers to the name of the wrestling finishing move used by the patriarch of the family, Fritz Von Erich. In wrestling, an Iron Claw is a painful grip on the head of the opponent that was so powerful the opponent would often give up the match; in this movie, it’s the grip Fritz had on his family.
I grew up watching wrestling. My grandpa was a big fan and introduced me to all the different shows he would watch. One of the lower-budget-looking ones he would frequent was this little show out of Texas called World Class Championship Wrestling. The most prominent regulars on the show were the Von Erich brothers. As an only child (at the time), I was fascinated by the idea of a whole family of brothers wrestling together. Then I started hearing about all the different things that had happened in their life and reading about the curse of the Von Erich family and how tragedy after tragedy seemed to strike the children. So, I was ready to go in, hear more details about what happened, and get the complete picture of their shared life. I wasn’t quite prepared to see how much the story would come across so sad. You could easily retitle the film “Iron Claw: The Tragedy of the Von Erich Family.”
I really liked parts of the film, like the ensemble acting between the brothers as they looked out for each other. I liked how you never got a straight answer about how “real” wrestling is. Sometimes, the film would keep kayfabe, a term that essentially means you act like the characters, and wrestling wins and losses are all real and not pre-planned. This was a good choice because the moment you acknowledge the pretend world they live in, it makes the stakes feel much lower.
The film exposes the problems when you have a father pushing a family in one direction and becoming so overbearing that you won’t let your children find their own way. The actor playing the dad, Holt McCallany, does a fabulous job as the heel father, driving his kids and his wrestling company forward in a vision he wants while pretending it’s for the benefit of his children.
It’s important to know that this isn’t as much a wrestling movie as Fighting With My Family or Ready To Rumble; it is a drama in a wrestling world landscape.
Find your own path; don’t take what other people want for you.
Success won’t erase the pain of the past.
IS IT REWATCHABLE
THE FINAL BELL
“The Iron Claw” is a dramatic and engaging biopic that tells the powerful story of the Von Erich brothers in 1980s professional wrestling. Featuring a strong cast and beautiful writing, the film brilliantly captures the essence of brotherhood and the pursuit of fame, tempered by personal and family struggles. While most of the movie deserves high praise for its compelling storytelling and authentic portrayal of wrestling, the horrible impression of wrestling legend Ric Flair is a notable misstep. Overall, “Iron Claw” is a poignant and captivating exploration of ambition, familial bonds, and the enduring impact of the past.
My 3L system gives me the choice to Love It, Like It, or Lose It.
The Iron Claw gets a Like It.
THE MEME REVIEW