indulge in some quiet time




a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation


editor's note 

o lounge 
o nourish 
o host

o send an ECARD

submit your ideas
support digs

rented any good movies lately? jump to the boards and recommend it. 
help support digs ... shop for movies and more at the digsShop, or donate to digs directly! 


copyright ©1999-2006

buy the DVD  

flick pick | Murderball 2005
Directed by: Henry Alex Rubin, Dana Adam Shapiro
Starring: Keith Cavill, Andy Cohn, Scott Hogsett, Christopher Igoe, Bob Lujano, Joe Soares, Mark Zupan
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: documentary
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:  action-packed, feel-good, true?!?
The critic says: ½/ 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: /5 

Plot synopsis Picture your typical jocks and what comes to mind? Big, tough guys sporting big tough muscles, and plenty of attitude to match. Murderball follows a group of guys who are, no doubt about it, total jocks. They love to play hard and fight rough; they live to kill the competition on court. They also all happen to be in wheelchairs. Murderball, see, was the original moniker for the game that's now known by the more marketable names of quad rugby or wheelchair rugby. It's a full-contact, fast-paced sport in which the players -- all quadriplegics (meaning they have impaired function, though not necessarily complete paralysis, in all four limbs) -- bash full-force into each other in souped-up wheelchairs in an effort to keep the opposition from hanging onto the ball and making it past the goal line. The film focuses on the members of the US quad rugby team as they prepare for the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens. The US has ruled the sport for ages, but as the film starts, the team begins to find their domination challenged. One of Team USA's former but now-aging stars, Joe Soares, went off to coach Team Canada after failing to make his own team's final cut despite years of guiding them to success. With his insider's knowledge of Team USA strategies as well as his bitter determination to wreak revenge on the folks who had the nerve to cut him out, Soares has now molded his Canadian team into a quad rugby force to be reckoned with. As the teams get ready to head off to Athens for the big showdown, we watch our US heroes (with no disrespect to the Canadians, Soares and his team sort of come off as the enemy in this film) training, and winning, and losing, and training some more. But the real drama, of course, comes when we get the chance to follow their lives off the court. As we hear each player's back-story, meet their friends and families, learn about the logistics of quadriplegic sex (yes, for many, it works fine), and realized that these guys in wheelchairs are living way more fully than many able-bodied folks, it's impossible not to be completely charmed by each (even Soares, who generally comes off as a narcissistic and just plain mean ol' bastard, softens up a bit by film's end).

Review It's a weird thing: watching sports generally bores me to tears, but give me a really good sports movie, and I am absolutely riveted. What the best sports movies generally share in common, I suppose, is that they tell the stories behind the big game. They make you see that playing a sport can be about much more than just passing balls and scoring points; that sports allow us to fight things out in a formal arena that we can't fully wrestle with in normal day-to-day living. So while Murderball does a great job of capturing the fast pace and exciting energy of quad rugby, its real success is in how it gets the viewer to really care about each of the players, without getting all sappy. The guys tell their stories matter-of-factly; there's no woe-is-me pity from them, or from the way Rubin and Shapiro chose to put together their film -- with drama and pathos, yeah, but a good deal of humor as well. True, it's impossible not to feel for Mark Zupan's supreme bad luck as he talks about falling asleep drunk in the back of his best friend's truck at the age of 18, only to find himself catapulted into a creek when his wasted buddy crashed the truck, and having to cling to a branch for 13 hours before rescue arrived (the friend, it turns out, had no clue Zupan was in the flatbed). But the Zupan we meet in the movie is so clearly awesome that you can't feel bad for him for long -- cocksure but grounded in real life, mesmerizingly intense once he gets out on the court. He is, no doubt about it, cool -- which, ridiculous though it may be, is not something that people in wheelchairs are generally portrayed as in our society. I went into Murderball feeling sorry for these guys for having to be stuck in wheelchairs; by the end, that condescending attitude had been completely wiped away. Zupan and his fellow teammates -- they just kicked ass. Murderball left me feeling as exhilarated as if I'd played a game myself. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

looking for a recommendation? 
find a flick to suit your mood

or browse the 
complete list of flick picks

---------------------------> lounge . nourish . host . laze . home .