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Canyon Hills Chronicle

The Student News Site of Canyon Hills High School

Canyon Hills Chronicle

The Student News Site of Canyon Hills High School

Canyon Hills Chronicle

The Iron Claw, a beautiful surprise

Iron Claw was a surprisingly emotional and fantastic movie that shattered our expectations.

The other day some friends of Josh and I had asked us to go see a movie. I had never heard of the movie so I had no idea what to expect and therefore no expectations. Josh on the other hand had said it was a movie that would be good to watch with friends so I agreed to see the movie. I had no idea the movie was about a family of wrestlers until I told my parents I had planned to see it, once they said that I had pretty much lost all interest. My zero expectations had dropped to a preemptive disliking of the movie, but I’m very glad I went through with watching it. The Iron Claw blew me away with how good it was and became my favorite movie of 2023.

Iron Claw is an emotional story of four brothers pushing their minds and bodies to the limit to make their father’s dream a reality. (Owen Hath)

We’re not alone in thinking the movie was a surprising hit. Our friend, Hunter Falcon (whom we saw the movie with) had this to say “I was genuinely shocked at how good the movie was”. Just like Josh and myself, he went into the film not expecting a very serious, emotional, and beautiful story between four brothers. All of our friends were in awe after the movie had ended, none of us had expected the movie to be good let alone as masterful as it ended up being. 

Something that did slightly negatively affect our view of the film would be during one of the most emotional and sad moments. Someone sitting to the left of our friends had been whispering throughout the movie, right before a certain pivotal scene a person in front of us shouted “can you stop talking”. It was extremely loud and sudden, we were completely caught off guard. It had lessened the impact of the following scene unfortunately, which sucks because of how important and sad it was. Despite Zac Efron’s amazing performance in this sequence of the movie, our attention was still stuck on someone shouting in the theater and cranking their head to look at who they shouted to.

As previously mentioned, this movie is about a family of wrestlers. It tells the story of the Von Erich family, Josh and I hadn’t heard of them until this movie but our parents had. The central idea of the movie is obviously about family but also living for yourself rather than for someone else. The driving point of conflict is the brothers constantly pushing themselves harder and harder, whether that be emotionally or physically to please their father. The four brothers all choose to become wrestlers because it’s what their father wants rather than what they want themselves.

Something the movie does incredibly well is emotional turmoil. We see it early on with one of the brothers, David. Fritz (the father) states that he has ranked his children by how much he loves them and that David is at the bottom of that list. This is because David is the only of the brothers that isn’t athletic at all, instead wanting to be a musician which his father really disagrees with. Fritz pushes and berrates David and it clearly bothers him, David wants the approval of his father just like his brothers but can’t achieve it the way they can as he isn’t an athlete. David wants so badly to be like his brothers and to please his father that he becomes a wrestler too, even though he has no interest or physical ability to do so. During David’s first match he falls and injures his shoulder in such a way that he’s comatosed. Upon waking up David has suffered some form of brain damage, he’s no longer able to play the guitar. In trying to please his father, David lost the one thing he was passionate and good at. David after losing a piece of himself has given up, he takes an entire bottle of sleeping pills and walks into the woods.

Fritz truly is the villain in this story. The way he pushes his dream of becoming world heavyweight champion on his sons leads them to destroy their bodies, minds, and ultimately leads to most of their deaths in a competition for their fathers approval. At the beginning of the movie, Kevin (Zac Efron) is the favorite child. Fritz constantly praises him and promises that he’ll be the heavyweight champion. After Kevin loses to the current champion,his father becomes more cold towards him and starts to show more affection to his brothers instead. Kevin’s brother Lance quickly becomes their father’s new favorite because of his skills with hyping the crowd up during their matches. The brothers are aware of their father’s favoritism based on performance and keep pushing themselves to achieve it, even by means of drug enhancements. Lance dies of a liver infection due to his constant and repeated steroid use.

All the brothers (besides David) use drugs to keep themselves going, to keep pushing for the championship their father so desperately wanted but could never achieve. Although Lance was the only brother to die due to these drugs, the constant usage and pushing their mind and body certainly had an impact on Kevin and Kerry. Kerry was an olympic athlete, he became a wrestler to appease his father after the U.S. pulled out of the 1980 olympics. Kerry’s career as an olympian was reduced to a stressful wrestling life in a constant attempt to live the life his father wants for him. After the death of his brother Lance, their father asks who will be fighting for the championship title in his place. Kevin says he’ll do it as he was supposed to be champion originally but Kerry challenges him saying that he’s earned a chance. Fritz has successfully turned his kids against each other as Kevin and Kerry are at odds to fight for a title only Fritz truly wants. 

Kerry ends up being the one who fights for the title of world heavyweight champion much to the disappointment of Kevin who had been pushed into believing that he wanted that title his whole life. Kevin wins the fight and becomes champion, forever cementing himself as his father’s favorite. This victory brings Kerry no joy however, by this point he’s already lost two brothers, strained his relationship with Kevin, and damaged his body and mind with serious drug use. Kerry rides drunk on his motorcycle on a busy road during the night, he closes his eyes and the screen fades to white. It’s unknow whether or not Kerry wanted to commit suicide here but if he did, he failed. The following scene shows Kerry getting out of bed but needing the assistance of crutches, leading the viewer to think he got in some kind of accident. We then see him walk into the kitchen where it’s revealed that the crash has left Kerry with only one leg.

There’s a beautifully sad scene involving Kevin and Kerry where they’re training to get Kerry back in the ring. Kerry now having a prosthetic is having a difficult time adjusting and is very angry about that, he takes his anger out on his brother by punching him repeatedly. Kerry believes that Kevin wants him to stop wrestling because he wants to be their father’s favorite, Kerry’s rage and brainwashing have made him see his own brother as an enemy. 

By this point in the story Kevin is completely done with his father. He had become an angry shell of himself after the death of his two brothers, being much more violent in the ring especially during his fight with Ric Flair. Deciding he didn’t want to live his father’s life anymore, Kevin moves away from wrestling and starts a family of his own.

He runs the wrestling ring his father previously owned and finds out that his dad had been lying about how much money Kevin had been making. Stealing from his own son, Fritz is an absolutely horrid character.

During a christmas party, Kevin and Kerry go to their parents house. Their dad makes offhanded comments about how he prefers Kerry to Kevin which neither son cares for at this point. It’s clear the drugs and wrestling life have gotten to Kerry’s head in a bad way. Kerry gives his dad a gun and gets incredibly angry when his father doesn’t want to immediately shoot it. Kevin, at this point already having lost a majority of his brothers, is extremely concerned for Kerry’s well being. Kevin asks his father to make sure Kerry doesn’t do anything drastic, which his father doesn’t take seriously.

The next day, Kevin goes back to his parents house to check in on his brother. Upon arriving at the house he sees his brother’s car, as he walks towards it he hears a gunshot. The mental turmoil had gotten to him, Kerry shot himself in the heart with the same gun he gifted his father the night before. The gun to us symbolizes that everything they give their father eventually comes back to haunt and hurt them. Zac Efron gives such an amazing performance as Kevin holds his brother’s lifeless body. Eventually their father comes by to see what happened and Kevin finally loses it. After years of emotional abuse and the death of all of his brothers, Kevin attacks his father. He pushes him on the ground and chokes him, blaming him for all of his brother’s deaths. He lets go of his father and brings Kerry’s body to the kitchen table. Kerry is then seen on a boat where he meets with her other dead brother presumably in heaven, it’s an incredibly powerful moment. The following scene was what was interrupted by the shouting in the theater, such a sad and beautiful scene getting interrupted was a real shame.

The movie closes with Kevin and his family, a much lighter note than the rest of the family drama the movie centered around. Kevin watches his two sons play football and begins to cry. His children come over to ask what’s wrong and he replies “I used to be a brother once”. His children comfort him and the movie ends, Kevin living a happy life and surely will be a much better father than his was. A beautiful end to an emotional rollercoaster. 

To conclude, The Iron Claw is without a doubt an amazing and emotionally charged film that blew our every expectation out of the water. The actors all give amazing performances and bring life to their characters. The movie does a perfect job in making me hate Fritz Von Erich. This film is a must see for anyone who has siblings, it captures the essence of a brotherly bond and the charisma between the brothers is just a joy to watch. All in all, The Iron Claw is absolutely wonderful, sadly beautiful and one of, if not the best movies of 2023.

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About the Contributor
Josh Arreola, Staff Writer
Josh is a junior at Canyon Hills High School and a first year staff writer in Journalism. He likes movies and playing video games. He also spends time sketching and drawing as well as listening to music.
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