Ok let's get one thing straight right off the bat before I begin the review proper, I am a huge wrestling fan and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I freaking love pro-wrestling. So when I first heard about this movie I immediately thought of the horrors of past wrestling movies, most of them staring Hulk Hogan, and thought that no way this film could be good.
Then I heard that Mickey Rourke was going to play the lead. I started to become more interested in this movie as I followed the news through the various wrestling dirt sheets. Soon I learned that Rourke was actually taking lessons from Afa and his trainers at the WxW wrestling school. After that I heard that they filmed a scene of the movie where Mickey Rourke wrestles Necro Butcher in CZW. Once I heard that information I knew I would have to see this movie, because anything involving Mickey Rourke wrestling a guy who literally got a chunk of his arm taken out during a match
would be something to behold (note, by clicking that link you'll see a video that has extreme graphic content, don't say I didn't warn you).
So I finally got around to seeing this film as it opened in Chicago and the film demonstrated to me that not only was it the best fictional account of pro-wrestling ever filmed, it's also one of the best films of the year.
For those of you wondering what this film is about it's basically the story of an old washed up wrestler just trying to get through his life when after a match he faces the fact that his wrestling career will not last forever. With in the story is where you will see Mickey Rourke's character, Randy "The Ram" Robinson, go try and fix his life and see just how hard it is for someone to try and adapt to life in general when it is so foreign to what they're used to.
Randy is a person who was a wrestling star at one point in his life, wrestling in Madeson Square Garden 20 years ago at the height of his career. Yet that's not what this film is about, it's about life after that. It's also not entirely about life after stardom neither, even though the majority of people will think that after seeing this film. In it's heart I truly believe this is a film about isolation with in society. This is a film that explores the theme of someone who can't feel comfortable in the real world and the only place they can find comfort is in something completely foreign to the real world.
The film shows us Randy's isolation by taking us through his life where he can't seem to find anyone willing to be a friend or care for him. In order to deal with his problems he goes to a local strip club and gets a lap dance, and through this he attaches himself to someone who in any other circumstance wouldn't give a damn about him in the least. The film also shows us how Randy can't even find comfort in his own family, which consists of his only daughter, who resents him for his past faults. The only place in his life where Randy can feel respected and appreciated is pro wrestling.
Fate however doesn't care about Randy's problems in the real world as fate tries to rip away the only place he feels comfortable, forcing Randy to confront the real world, only to have him go back to wrestling out of necessity.
I love almost everything about this film. Maybe a little bit more than most people due to my love of wrestling. This film is shot very stripped down, they show segments of Randy's life in ways that you would think it was a documentary. The acting by almost everyone is fantastic and Mickey Rourke deserves the praise he's getting for this film and he will probably get a well deserved oscar nomination for this role. The soundtrack, while consisting of just sounds and 80's metal music, is very fitting and it even has an original song by Bruce Springstein. And as far as the actual wrestling goes in this film, it is exactly the way it is in real life. All the back stage stuff you see wrestlers talking about, all the terms like "heel" and "baby face, the way a person bleeds in pro wrestling, all of that is real. I love this film!
That's why it pains me to show the films one major flaw, Evan Rachel Wood. For the first two times we see her in this movie she's actually pretty decent and gets the job done; but on the third time when she's supposed to drive home the scene depending on her to actually emote, she fails. It is with this failure that the movie comes down a bit, which is a shame because I loved everything else.
For my rating of this movie I'm going to give it Full Price!
I would have given this movie Better Than Sex if it wasn't for Evan Rachel Wood completely screwing up the third time we see her. Overall if you have a chance to see this film, and are of the age to see an R Rated movie (hey half the film takes place in a strip club) you owe it to yourself to see this film.