Sep/2018

Film Review: ‘Doglegs’!

by Gumbercules9000 on Sep 26th, 2015

Hi everyone, Bryan Here…

"Sambo" Shintaro,  Doglegs co-founder, and star of the documentary film Doglegs, strikes a fighting pose in Japan in this handout photo

I’m always excited to see a documentary in general, no matter what the subject matter is, but the icing on the cake is when I get to view a documentary on a subject that I never knew existed. Not only do I get to learn about this new subject matter, but I also get to go into the lives of the people who take part in whatever case study we’re watching. This wonderful documentary here by Heath Cozens is called ‘Doglegs‘ and gives us a glimpse at some of the lives who are involved in a pro-wrestling league in Japan. The kicker with this pro-wrestling league is that it consists of disabled people, some of whom can’t use their legs, arms, or even stand up straight.

In addition to that, this league also features able-bodied people who go up against these disabled performers and fighters and literally show no mercy or pity as the poster suggests. It’s a bit brutal at times, but also very inspiring and emotional, as we see these disabled people fight in the ring with no special assistance. This league called Doglegs was founded a long time ago and is run by an able-bodied volunteer who sets the matches and even wrestles himself against the disabled.

Doglegs_1

Over the last two decades, his main rival has been a disabled man named ‘Sambo’ Shintaro who is a kind, gentle man who always has a smile on his face. His goal in his late life is to have a respectful job and meet a girl beyond the ring, however, he wants one last match with his opponent before he retires, which he aims to win. Cozens takes us into the life of a few people, one of which can’t even feed himself, let alone even stand up on his own and has a debilitating alcohol problem, but that never stops him from getting into the ring, and taking a brutal beating and even delivering some vicious kicks.

Then there is a guy who is suffering from cancer and severe depression, who has a difficult time with in ring performances, which clearly has take a toll on him. We see their home lives, the people who care for them, and even their social lives, one of which includes Shintaro going to a sex museum with a date. Things get a bit emotional as well when we see the triumphs and failures of these athletes and fighters, as in opposition to the WWE, these matches in Doglegs are NOT pre-determined and is a mix of UFC and pro-wrestling. The real punches and kicks would be harsh to anyone, let alone someone in these people’s condition.

Doglegs_3

 

But that’s the point here. These fighters in ‘Doglegs‘ don’t want our pity, sorrow, or mercy. They want to be treated just like the star athletes they look up to, and it’s so inspiring that I want to fly to Japan and see a show. Cozens paces this documentary nicely, showing us the highs and lows of their training, fights, and personal lives. Much like the documentary ‘Murderball‘, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be forever moved by these spectacular athletes.

Highly Recommended!

– Bryan Kluger

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