Directed by Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro, starring Mark Zupan, Joe Soares, Andy Cohn, Scott Hogsett, Bob Lujano, Keith Cavill and Christopher Igoe.
Rugby can be a pretty brutal game, but when you've got two teams with a serious grudge against each other, it can be murder. No wonder then that those in the know refer to Quad Rugby, a form of rugby played by quadriplegic athletes on a basketball court, as murderball. It's a tough game, but, as this documentary shows, there's a lot of heart behind it.
Mark Zupan, Andy Cohn, Scott Hogsett and Bob Lujano play on the US Quad Rugby team. They each have limited function in their limbs, but that doesn't stop them from playing the game and living their lives to the fullest. 'Murderball' focuses on their preparations for the 2004 Paralympics in Athens, particularly on their desire to beat the Canadian team, coached by Joe Soares, a former USA team member, and one of the legends of Quad Rugby.
For each of these five men, there is little bemoaning their disabilities. They are all proof that there is life after these twists of fate that have left them wheelchair-bound. Their competitive spirit is no less dimmed by their quadriplegia. If anything, it's been heightened. Watching them in training and competition makes us realise that this is just the same as any sport and these men are just the same as any other athletes, wanting to be on top of their game for Athens.
Perhaps what's most heartening about this documentary is the players' willingness to share information about themselves and educate others about their sport. We see them talking to children about their injuries and playing a game with wounded US soldiers. The story of a young man named Keith, a recent quadriplegic injured in a biking accident, is particularly touching because we see that Quad Rugby may allow him to return to the active life he loved so much.
Zupan, Soares, Hogsett, Cohn and Lujano share a love of Quad Rugby alongside their competitiveness and it's good to see that kind of interest being passed on to and shared with others. 'Murderball' may be about a harsh sport, but the message behind it is one of equality and getting up when life knocks you down. These men deliver that idea with the same gusto that they compete with.