They now call it "Quadriplegic rugby," but this rock 'em, sock 'em indoor version of the rough-and-trouble contact sport is actually better served by its original name: murderball. The game is played on a hardwood floor without helmets or pads, and the object is simple: The guy with the ball has to get both wheels of his custom-built, Thunderdome-looking wheelchair over the goal line. The other team tries to stop him by tearing after him and smashing their chairs into anyone that gets in their way. It's like rugby played at a demolition derby, and the fact that it's played by quadriplegic men only makes this thrilling game that much more remarkable. Filmmakers Henry-Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro and Jeffrey Mandel follow Team America from their unexpected loss of their world title to the equally fierce Team Canada at the 2002 Wheelchair Rugby World Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden, to their shot at regaining their tarnished glory at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, Greece. Amping up the drama is the fact that the winning team is now being coached by Joe Soares, a former U.S. player who defected for Canada when he was cut from Team America. Once the most visible Quad Rugby player in the world — and Joe he has the trophy wall to prove it — Joe is no longer as fast as he used to be, and is now running on resentment and the desire to trounce his former teammates who he feels betrayed him. As Rubin and Shapiro's cameras follow Joe as he prepares his team for the fateful rematch, they also profile several of Team America's most colorful players, including Mark Zupan, an Austin native whose story deserves a movie of its own. After a night of heavy drinking with his buddies, Mark fell asleep in the back of his best friend's pick-up truck. When the truck slammed into a tree, Mark was thrown into a nearby canal where he clung to a tree for the next 14 hours, despite the fact that the accident had left him paralyzed. As each of the players discuss what it was like to suddenly find themselves inhabiting a new body that didn't functioned as well as the old one, the film chronicles the efforts of Keith Cavill, a young man who recently suffered a serious spinal cord injury after being thrown from his motorbike, to adjust to his new life as a quadriplegic. The film is filled with humor, compassion and cajones, and never once glosses over the fact that these guys are prickly personalities who can sometimes act like jerks. There are also a few tears, but remarkably, not a single one is shed in pity.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: R
- Review: They now call it "Quadriplegic rugby," but this rock 'em, sock 'em indoor version of the rough-and-trouble contact sport is actually better served by its original name: murderball. The game is played on a hardwood floor without helmets or pads, and the obj… (more)