Centered on the Von Erich family from Texas, The Iron Claw tells the story of Fritz Von Erich (Holt McCallany) a professional wrestler who desperately wants to be a champion. To that end, he molds his sons to follow in his footsteps. Cold and occasionally abusive, wrestling is all that matters to him. Undeniably close, the brothers are led by Kevin Von Erich (Zach Efron) a good-hearted oaf who just wants to hang out with his brothers. Kerry Von Erich (Jeremy Allen White) is self-destructive and suffers with substance abuse. David Von Erich (Harris Dickinson) is the family’s natural showman and feels bad when he leapfrogs Kevin as the spokesman for the family. Last is Mike (Stanley Simons) a want to be musician who has little interest in wrestling but wants his father’s approval. Meanwhile, wife and mother Doris (Maura Tierney) says little and takes care of the housework.

The title is derived from Fritz’s signature move (later adopted by his sons), a grip to the face that left opponents paralyzed. Fritz never got the title shot he thought he deserved. He’s determined that one of his sons will bring home the elusive belt, even in the face of unspeakable tragedy. As the eldest, Kevin takes to the ring first, reestablishing the family name. Kerry and David soon follow. Just as the Von Erich’s are near the top when David suddenly dies. Mike enters the ring but commits suicide after an injury.

The Iron Claw does a good job staging the wrestling scenes and delivering a powerful story about a family losing their grip on reality in pursuit of a dream. It’s all very sad. Witnessing tragedy after tragedy makes for tough sledding. The performances are strong throughout, particularly that of Zach Efron who makes you feel the enormous pain that defines his life. Lily James is a breath of fresh air as Pam, the wrestling fan who eventually marries Kevin and becomes the mother of his kids.

If there’s any complaints, it’s that writer-director Sean Durkin doesn’t let his characters evolve much. while the film begins in the mid-1970’s and stretches through the 1980’s, nothing about the characters changes much. Even so, the story remains interesting. It’s also worth noting that you don’t have to be a wrestling fan to watch The Iron Claw.

The Iron Claw is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of A24 and Lionsgate Films with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1. The result is a beautiful transfer. While the film opens with a brief black and white scene, the overall color scheme creates the films seventies and eighties look. Contrast is spot on with inky blacks, vibrant blues and bright yellows. Detail is strong, particularly during the many closeups. Grain is nicely resolved. Scratches and other anomalies aren’t an issue.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is immersive throughout. From the roars of the crowd to the match action, the rears are fully engaged. The quieter moments offer clean, clear and concise dialogue. A  nicely rendered score by Richard Reed Parry is well used by the surrounds.

English and Spanish subtitles are available.

The following extras are included:

  • Brotherhood is Forever: Making The Iron Claw (HD, 29:24)
  • Cast and Crew Q & A (HD, 20:57)
  • Trailer (HD, 2:23)

The Iron Claw (2023
3.8 Reviewer

Get your copy of The Iron Claw here!