Quadriplegics, who play full-contact rugby in wheelchairs, overcome unimaginable obstacles to compete in the Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece.
It gives a surprising insight into the world of quadriplegic rugby as well as furthering the current invigoration of the documentary form. Murderball is the nickname for 'quad' rugby, a competition played by quadriplegic athletes in souped up, murderous wheelchairs (think Mad Max). A high-octane fusion of Roller Derby, basketball and football, it isn't for the faint-hearted, as skilful ' and rough - a contact sport as anything the AFL or NRL could dish up.
Murderball essentially follows three main players in the two years leading up to the 2004 Disabled Olympic competition in Athens: Mark Zupan, a driven young Team USA player, who if he wasn't an Olympic athlete would certainly be at home in bands Limp Bizket or Ministry. Joe Soares, a spurned USA player now Coach for the Canadian Team, a guy with huge ambitions and stress/father issues' And Keith Cavill, a young guy, new to life in a wheelchair, who sees the Murderball team as a way to regain his independence and autonomy as a young man facing what should be the best years of his life.
I must confess I was initially a little worried about Murderball, as it came on like an extended MTV-style video clip of macho sportsmen and not much more (we can get those style-over-substance sports docs watching TV anytime on the weekend). But as the saying goes appearances can be deceiving. Deftly juggling a number of real-life subjects it becomes something far more substantial, combining the excitement of the competition with more powerful and intimate personal stories. The best thing about Murderball is that it doesn't marginalise or patronise its wheelchair-bound subjects, and some of their revelations are mind blowing.
Although it isn't quite the calibre of recent groundbreaking doc Tarnation, it is still a doco that isn't afraid of turning real life into a movie ie the filmmakers shape the material as aggressively as the fellas play on the court, making it work very hard as a narrative-driven doc and a piece of entertainment.