The Iron Claw Review

When I was younger I remember going to my friend Jose’s house for a sleepover. Other than hanging out with my friend who recently moved to the suburbs we were excited to see Wrestlemania 3. His father ordered the pay-per-view and we could not wait to see Hulk Hogan take on Andre the Giant. This was the highlight of the night and it was great seeing this historic match live on that day.

My love for wrestling was big when I was younger. I would watch the live shows, watch Hulk Hogan’s Rock n Wrestling on Saturday mornings, and buy the bendable figures when I could. My friend had a wrestling ring and we would re-create matches that we saw and make our dream matches.

As I got older my love for wrestling wavered and got renewed a few years ago thanks to my wife and children. Because of this, I have been taking in as much wrestling as I could and started watching Vice’s Dark Side of the Ring. While the show has many great episodes, the episode of the Von Erich’s moved me. I knew of the Von Erichs and followed their story in the ring but never really knew about their lives outside the ring.

Courtesy of A24

When I heard about the making of The Iron Claw I knew this movie would be a hard watch and boy was it. The Iron Claw takes us to the beginning of the Von Erich’s hold on the wrestling world. We see the beginning with their father, Fritz, wrestling and using the “Iron Claw” on his opponent to win the match. We next see how the brothers have been molded to be like their father and the second oldest, Kevin, played by Zac Efron, is now a force of nature in the ring. Fritz instills in his sons that they have to be better than him. He ranks his sons and tells them that their rank can change at any moment. This pressure on the boys slowly tears at them and we see this as the story progresses.

The Iron Claw is a movie about more than wrestling. It is a movie about family and brotherhood, and how these bonds are either strengthened or broken based on those around them. Although the brothers eventually are all in the ring together the rivalry between them only grows due to the pressure of their father. As the brothers gain more notoriety we see how they do not want to show any weakness and this eventually leads to the downfall of one of the brothers. We learn that this is called the “Curse of the Von Erichs”.

The Curse eventually comes for the family and we see how their father, Fritz, is the main protagonist in this toxic environment. There are many times when we see how his beliefs have clouded the vision of the sons. They feel that any sign of weakness will betray everything that their father taught them and have to stay strong to look good in his eyes. There is one scene that involves the matriarch of the family, Doris Von Erich, played magnificently by Maura Tierney, that shows that no matter what has happened in their lives, Fritz’s mind is still set in the old ways. Maura Tierney’s scenes in the movie are limited but there is one scene involving a dress that just hurts to watch!

Apart from the family curse the moments in the ring really shine! Seeing Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White as Kerry Von Erich, and Harris Dickinson as David Von Erich recreate famous matches show the dedication they had to these roles. In these moments we can see how the brothers worked well together and supported each other in the ring. Sadly, it is only the brothers who support each other outside of the ring while their father looks the other way. Which is truly sad! Hopefully, after this movie, the issues with men dealing with mental illness can be talked about more openly.

Courtesy of A24

Final Thoughts: The story of the Von Erichs is one of an American dream gone wrong. We are shown most of the Von Erichs’ hardships and accomplishments in a way that is not disrespectful to the family. For those who are unfamiliar with the family, this movie will serve as a tale of caution about how toxic masculinity can destroy a man physically and mentally. While all the leads shine in the wrestling scenes, it is their emotional scenes that get to the heart of the movie.

Kid-Friendly: The Iron Claw is not only a movie about wrestling but also about family. There may be some valuable lessons in this movie for some kids but the tragedy of the Von Erichs might be too much for younger viewers.

Violence: Apart from the wrestling scenes the verbal attacks from Fritz Von Erich to his sons are pretty brutal to watch. There are scenes of suicide that are not shown but the aftermath is still heartbreaking to see.

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.

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