MURDERBALL | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper
Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro's documentary about wheelchair rugby upends -- literally -- what you might think about those living with severe disabilities. The sport, played by paraplegics in modified wheelchairs, demands an athleticism and determination that makes other pro sports pale in comparison. "Murderball" is the sport's original name, and it makes sense once you scope the on-court aggression, trash-talking and chair-slamming. The film follows Team USA, including the charismatic player Mark Zupan, from 2002 through the Athens 2004 Para-Olympics, against their chief rival, Canada. We also meet twentysomething Keith, a recent quadriplegic, during his adjustment out of rehab. If the film has one defining winning moment it's when Keith -- a gearhead who broke his neck while motocrossing -- sees Zupan operating the hardcore rugby chair, and lights up with the promise of his future. Murderball is inspirational, but it doesn't stoop to pitying or even casting these players as "different." These guys aren't looking for sympathy; they want respect, and they earn it. Starts Fri., July 29. Squirrel Hill (AH)

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