Winner of the Audience Award and Best Documentary Feature accolades at Sundance Film Festival, Murderball, directed by Dana Adam Shapiro and Henry-Alex Rubin, shines a spotlight on quad rugby (the sport’s official name). It quickly shatters the notion that people who use wheelchairs are weak and passive – these guys are as rude, crude and lewd as any able-bodied professional men’s sports team.
The film is much more than a sports documentary. Three years in the making, it captures intense competition and personal vendettas, but also the drama of relationships, forgiveness and finding meaning after devastating loss.
Much of the action focuses on Mark Zupan, the heavily tattooed, brash and outspoken captain of Team USA, and his rivalry with Joe Soares, a gloryhound and former star player who becomes coach of Team Canada simply to get even. Off the court, Zupan’s friendship with the man who accidentally caused his quadriplegia and Soares’ clumsy acceptance of his non-athletic teenage son are finely honed subplots, playing out over a soundtrack that includes Ministry and the Moldy Peaches.
Murderball is a stunning film with unforgettable personalities that, at 86 minutes, leaves viewers wanting more. Rated 14A. DVD special features include “Life According to Zupan,” rules of the game, updates on the players and deleted scenes.
Available November 29