The Iron Claw

15 Blu-ray, DVD

Zac Efron isn’t just a pretty face. Although the 36-year-old actor clearly used his matinee idol looks to great effect staring out in his career with the Disney show High School Musical, thus ensuring heartthrob status.

He then made the move to the big screen, quietly carving out a success for himself. He used his head too, picking teen friendly projects such as 17 Again, Charlie St. Cloud and The Lucky One.

At the same time, he was also dipping his creative toe into more mature themed waters, such as Parkland, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile and The Greatest beer Run Ever. And now this.

boom reviews The Iron Claw
So hopefully this way, you'll never have to turn green again.

Growing up in Texas in the eighties is Kevin Von Erich (Efron) and his brothers Mike (Stanley Simons), David (Harris Dickinson) and Kerry (Jeremy Allen White). They not only idolise one another but their father Fritz (Holt McCallany), who used to be a big name in the pro’s wrestling game. Unfortunately for him, he never became world champion, and is now living vicariously through his sons, who have a real passion for the game, and are all keen to please him.

Kevin is probably the most likely to succeed, having the perfect body and attitude for the industry, but may lack a little personality in front of camera.

But sometimes looking the part isn’t enough, especially when they all have the family curse to contend with. Although for some it may come across a joke, it soon transpires that the Von Erich’s are one unlucky family.

boom reviews The Iron Claw
Didn't I warn you not to make fun of my dog again?!

What at first could be construed as a fun and frothy tale about a family of wrestlers soon reveals itself to be a rather dark story, made more so by the fact it’s based on a real, unfortunate family.

It’s a film less about succeeding in the ring and more about the lengths brothers are prepared to go to please their father; they worship him, and whatever he decides is best for their wrestling career, they accept, without question.

It is a serious film that Efron obviously took very seriously; physically he looks almost unrecognisable, revealing himself to be more like Marvel’s Hulk without the need for any CGI. If you need a physical definition for the urban term ‘unit’, Efron is it. He has managed to increase his body mass to such a degree that it wouldn’t be a surprise if his new body mass had its own agent and was now seriously considering other projects without Efron involved.

And although he’s clearly put the hours in for the physical transition, it’s the emotional core of the film that is more powerful.

Canadian director Sean Durkin is keen to present this brotherhood as loving and caring, with each of them always looking out for each other. This obvious affection only heightens the tragedy that befalls them, that although easily termed a curse, all roots inevitably lead back to daddy, and the issues that he helped develop.

Durkin manages the audience to almost become a fellow family member, thus forcing us to also go through the emotions that the brothers go through, as tragedy strikes repeatedly. The film then delivers a number of emotional moves, equivalent to the likes of the Frankensteiner, Spinebuster and Piledriver, which are just as likely to leave you feeling numb at the end of it.

It’s another smart move my Efron, who is quietly becoming a major player of his generation, proving himself a talent more than capable of grappling with adult material, yes even whilst wearing a pair of budgie smugglers.

we give this four out of five