The Iron Claw 2023 Movie Scene Zac Efron as Kevin Von Erich holding his belt during an interview

The Iron Claw [2023]

Whatever you are expecting from a movie about wrestling with a title like this, you will be surprised. I can guarantee you that. Mostly because I went into it thinking the same thing. I was thinking this is going to be a classic biopic featuring all the classic genre tropes. And for the first thirty minutes, it was. And then, the reality kicked in and kicked in hard. The Iron Claw is a gripping family drama set against the backdrop of the world of wrestling. And it’s also based on actual events. We will follow the Von Erich family as they try to conquer the world of wrestling throughout the eighties. Even if you don’t like wrestling, I think you’ll find this movie worth watching.

It follows Sean Durkin’s two-punch formula he perfected in the 2020 movie The Nest. The first part of the movie is rather conventional with just hints of what’s about to come. And then the second part of the movie knocks you out. It’s quite different from its obvious companion, 2008’s The Wrestler. First of all, The Iron Claw is a big movie and it feels like a big movie. The production values are excellent along with period sets, clothes, and everything else. I want you to pay careful attention to the hairstyles. Now, this is what people really looked like in the eighties. We usually get this modernized version of the eighties haircuts, a compromise between what’s currently popular and what was trendy back then. 

That’s not going to happen here as we will see those mullets in their full glory. Underneath the mullets, you will find a diverse and competent cast led by an unlikely leader. Zac Efron knew that this is his big break to finally establish himself as one hell of an actor and he fucking took it. His subdued, complex, and spellbinding performance here will be remembered. I have to admit that I didn’t think Zac had it in him. Not until I saw him in Extremely Wicked Shockingly Evil and Vile playing Ted Bundy, the notorious serial killer. If you want further proof of just how good he is, check out the minimalist post-apocalyptic survival drama Gold

Well, it would appear that I spent a lot of time talking about everything but the thing that you’re going to notice first. And that thing is Zac Efron’s body transformation. He looks jacked as shit here with huge muscles and even bigger veins. His face also looks different, especially if you focus on his eyes and nose. The rest of his face looks like someone enlarged it in Photoshop. He’s not the only one who looks a bit different as Jeremy Allen White (Shameless, The Bear) also went through the same routine. On the other hand, Holt McCallany looks as big and intimidating as ever as Fritz, the patriarch of the Von Erich family. And don’t read up on them if you want to avoid spoilers. 

Speaking of that character, this is as much a story about wrestling as it is a story about family and how one man’s compulsive, irrational, and devastatingly ambitious behavior can cause a lot of pain and suffering. At this point, I feel like I want to share something with you. My father wasn’t as brash or driven as Fritz was but that didn’t stop him from putting an enormous amount of pressure on his three sons. Each of us reacted to it in a different way and tried to work through it. We managed to pull through in the end but were definitely fucked up by that experience.

And yet, throughout all of this and even today, he’s totally unaware of his actions, consequences, and the general concepts surrounding them. What I’m trying to say here is that the Von Erich story is the story of all of us. Now, I did grow up during the eighties and nineties and I could see the change in the society in all the subsequent years. Today, things are a bit different but there will always be these stories. And this is why it’s important that you see this movie, The Iron Claw. Who knows, maybe you’ll see yourself in it and make a real-life change. However, I don’t want to blame it all on Fritz.

There are a lot of factors here, and you’ll be able to make that decision for yourself. And yet, you entirely don’t have to. You can watch this movie as a story about one man, Kevin, who has a single desire… Finally, if you want to see a more upbeat movie about wrestling Ready to Rumble awaits you. 

Director: Sean Durkin

Writer: Sean Durkin

Cast: Zac Efron, Holt McCallany, Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson, Maura Tierney, Stanley Simons

Fun Facts: Sean Durkin is a wrestling fan and he wanted to make a movie about the Von Erich family for a long time. He began working on it back in 2015 even excluding one tragic event as he thought it would be too much for the movie.


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