The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

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“The Iron Claw” is a Champion of Cinema


The story of the Von Erich professional wrestling family is a tragic tale, and Sean Durkin’s biopic “The Iron Claw” tells it in a wonderfully compelling and respectful manner.

Writer and Director Sean Durkin’s other films include “The Nest” and “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” but “The Iron Claw” is by far his magnum opus. Although “The Iron Claw” is a wrestling-centric drama, it will leave you wanting to learn more about the legacy of the Von Erich family and will most certainly bring you to tears.

Set in 1980s Dallas, Texas, the film focuses on Kevin Von Erich, played by Zac Efron, and his brothers, Kerry Von Erich, played by Jeremy Allen White, David Von Erich, played by Harris Dickinson and Mike Von Erich, played by Stanley Simmons as they try to climb the proverbial wrestling ladder to make their father, Fritz Von Erich, played by Holt McCallany, proud.

Fritz Von Erich never became a world champion, so he pushed his dream onto his sons and pressured them into competition with each other. Despite all that Fritz puts his sons through, they still loved him.

Kevin Von Erich is portrayed as the older brother who wants what’s best for his brothers and family as a whole. David Von Erich is a natural athlete and entertainer. Kerry Von Erich is reckless and sometimes hotheaded. Mike Von Erich doesn’t want to wrestle, but he also doesn’t want to disappoint his father.

The familial bonds, particularly the brotherly love, are shown thoroughly throughout the film. The amount that the Von Erich brothers genuinely care about each other and want each other to succeed is felt by the audience.

McCallany had a great performance as the old-school Fritz Von Erich, who shows his sternness and authority in a way that makes it look like Fritz really believes that everything he does is for the good of his sons.

Efron’s performance as Kevin Von Erich made the film. His body language and facial expressions were on point. He brought raw emotion to the role that made you feel what the character was experiencing.

There were several scenes where the characters wrestled, which were fast-paced and entertaining. Chavo Guerrero, a pro wrestler and the stunt coordinator for the film, trained the actors to wrestle to make it look more authentic. In an interview with Chris Van Vliet, Guerrero said that he would wrestle Efron in 12-minute matches about 10-12 times.

The film leaves out a whole brother, Chris Von Erich, which at first feels like a disservice because the entire point of the film is the bond of brothers. The movie is already over two hours, and Durkin said, in an interview with Today, that Kevin Von Erich understood his reasoning and was okay with it. However, taking Chris Von Erich out of the film leaves a bad taste after discovering what happened to him.

Chris Von Erich faced struggles in his wrestling career due to his asthma and brittle bone condition. The left-out brother died of suicide at the age of 21 in 1991.

Nonetheless, “The Iron Claw” beautifully captures the essence of brotherly love and how families cope with tragedy. In a Hollywood landscape filled with unoriginal remakes, cinematic universes and cash grabs, “The Iron Claw” is a shining light.

“The Iron Claw” is currently available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime.