Forget every uplifting, tear-jerking cliché you've ever experienced in a film about disability. This sensational documentary (on DVD Nov. 29) is as artfully hard-bitten as My Left Foot, and its real-life heroes have zero interest in plucking your fucking heartstrings. "Just make us look cool," they told filmmakers Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro. "Make us look like real athletes." They do. These guys wield armored wheelchairs as weapons at Road Warrior speeds straight at other nut jobs in pursuit of the ball in a game officially called quadriplegic rugby, but known to all as Murderball.
The chief rivals in the film are fortyish Joe Soares and his younger successor as master of the sport, Mark Zupan. Soares now coaches the Canadian team, which lends tang to their tangles at the 2002 World Championship in Sweden and the rematch at the Athens Paralympics in 2004.
Friends confide that the charismatic Zupan—whom Eminem is interested in portraying in a biopic—was always an asshole, even before he passed out drunk in his best pal's truck and was flung from it on the highway. The documentary—just announced as one of 15 Oscar-eligible titles—also has oodles of rowdy atmosphere, as the touring quad team pulls hotel pranks, bellies up to girls at bars, and talks trash with panache.
The DVD extras are pretty good. Jackass pranksters Johnny Knoxville and Steve-O bond with the Murderballers by giving each other black eyes and playing Cattle Prod Jousting; Knoxville admits they're "only one stupid stunt away from joining your team next year." Zupan votes for the golf-cart crash stunt—rent the Jackass movie to see it—as the one likeliest to cripple the jackasses. The 40-minute Larry King interview is surprisingly entertaining, and the behind-the-movie interviews fill in some interesting info. The commentaries by players and filmmakers are intelligent, but it plays better without them.
Dec. 6 brings many TV titles to disc, including Everybody Loves Raymond (season five) and 24 (season four). Fox has added to its formidable noir reissue series with The Dark Corner, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and Kiss of Death, which made a star out of Richard Widmark when he gigglingly pushed the wheelchair lady down the stairs. Another great collection (from Sony) is labeled "Fox in a Box," and she sure is: Pam Grier in Coffy; Sheba, Baby; and Foxy Brown. Ron Howard puts a commentary on the two-disc Cinderella Man. And Criterion offers Forbidden Games and Shoot the Piano Player.