The Iron Claw – Review


The Iron Claw is a movie written and directed by Sean Durkin. It is a very timely movie- the film came out in America several weeks ago and failed to be a large part of the awards season buzz, but its UK release does coincide with another event that could enhance the film.

The film is a wrestling movie about the Von Erich family. This lesser-known family wrestled for several federations in the 80s, most notably the WCCW which would eventually become the WCW. The family also has two former MWA world champions, a federation that attempted a revival recently but is now all online because some idiot thought it would be a good idea to have some wrestlers take cocaine on camera, causing them to lose a TV deal. 

The Von Erich’s story isn’t very well known. The film does a good job at conveying it, it certainly shows how a wrestling dynasty comes about, with the father Fritz Von Erich (Holt McCallany) passing on the business to his son Kevin (Zac Efron) and eventually bringing on David (Harris Dickinson), Kevin (Jeremy Allen White, who you may remember from Shameless), and Mike (Stanley Simmons). It also shows the truth from that time-  they would be bouncing around from federations based on how well you could do with the crowd, in hopes of getting a better spot. If you know the story of how everything went down, then this film will probably satisfy you. It’s relatively as close as a biopic is going to get. 

I think the fact that made this film possible is that none of the Von Erich’s family members are currently employed by the WWE, because then they would struggle to get rights to make the film, since they do own the back catalogue from WCW, having acquired it in 2001. WWE has obviously had some involvement in the film, which makes sense considering this is one of the few films recently where the people don’t come out looking bad- if you’re not aware of what I’m going on about, don’t look up what they’ve been up to recently, there’s a reason why their current CEO is out of the company and in a massive lawsuit… I’ll leave it at that. 

That being said, you’re not getting too much archival footage. There is some briefly in the background, around Von Erich’s time in WWE (or WWF as it was at the time, including his win at the intercontinental championship at the Summer Slam).

The film mostly focuses on Kevin, the one who started in the business and put up with just about anything because he wanted to be with his brothers. It does well early on showing the major thing that held him back was the fact that he wasn’t a great talker. Unless you’ve got a good manager or mouthpiece to back you up when you go to the ring, that’s a death sentence for your hopes of being a main event guy. I will say to Zac Efron’s credit, he plays the role brilliantly. Zac Efron has become one of those actors that surprises me with how good they are. Early on, I thought he was going to peter out, but he has truly proven me wrong and showed me how much range he has to give. I will say I don’t know what training regime he had to go through to make him that jacked for the role!

Talking about this film is hard to do since I don’t want to give away too much for people who aren’t familiar with the Von Erich story, but I will say Fritz Von Erich does not come out of this movie looking very good. I did find out in my research for this review that Kevin Von Erich himself wasn’t too happy with how the movie portrayed his father, which is probably due to some of the biopic concessions that you have to make as a filmmaker. You have to change certain dates and story points to fit in with the narrative you want to tell, and you have to tread a fine line because you have to get the rights to certain wrestlers that the Von Erichs wrestled with for the MWA championship- some of the most notable being Harley Race and Ric Flair. In terms of their mannerisms, they do a pretty good job of reflecting the wrestlers themselves. The actor they got to play Harley Race in particular, really resembled him! But the point is that you now have to get all of those wrestlers and/or their family members to sign onto the project, so it must be difficult to get a project like this off the ground. 

I’ll also add that one thing that may throw people off The Iron Claw is that it’s not entirely as critical of the wrestling business as you may expect it to be. It’s not as praising of the business as Fighting With My Family is, but it doesn’t actively criticise that the business doesn’t have much in the way of an exit or retirement plan for the athletes. It’s sort of middling on this scale. 

While the performances are excellent in this movie, I think that they are slightly undone by the length of the movie in my opinion. I think it could have got the job done in a much shorter time and towards the end of the film I started to notice some of the padding. 

The Iron Claw is a well-put-together movie, but for wrestling fans, I don’t think it’s that insightful into the business and questions have been raised about the authenticity of some of the story points. As a standalone movie, it does a good job of making you care for the characters and overall, I think that it’s an interesting watching experience, and you’ll be able to take something away from it. It’s very timely with WrestleMania 40 around the corner and the fact that the main event is set to be Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes, two second-generation wrestlers, and potentially the Rock’s involvement and him bringing in his daughter as a fourth-generation wrestler- so wrestling families are a big focus of the business right now. 

I think it’s a pretty decent movie, but in a few months’ time I may have a different opinion on a rewatch.

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

Share This Post:
Posted in Film Reviews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The Next Axia29th May 2024
12:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Get in Touch

To find out more, ask a question or book a consultation, get started by filling out the short form below:


Follow Us!

Subscribe to Our Monthly Round-Up

Submit Guest Content

Submit your own "Reviews" or "Guest Content" by clicking on the icon, or click here.
If you are experiencing difficulties with the functionality of our website, please let us know by clicking the image above.