Bare-hands fighting film Knuckle opens in New Orleans



Ian Palmer's Knuckle is full of fighting. Bare-knuckle, no-rounds, few-rules fighting between members of rival Irish Traveller families. They're not professional boxers and most don't look like they are in terribly good shape, but some mix of family pride, ongoing feuds and machismo ensure that the fights will keep happening, in spite of all the calls for an end to the violence and the notion of settling grudges or disputes. It almost makes it laughable to suggest the film could endorse an anti-violence message. But as the bouts go on over 12 years, it's hard to believe anyone wants the practice to continue. That's the thrill/repulsion dynamic that drives the film, and it's hard to look away once two men face off. It opens at Zeitgeist today. Review here.

Knuckle focuses on the extended feud between the Quinn McDonagh and Joyce families. The original reason for the feud is covered in the film, but as the fights between successive members of each clan happened, the bouts were pushed up for other reasons. Fighting for one's family seems to be a rite of passage. And typically, each family bets on the fights. Videos of the illicit events (held in secluded areas to avoid police) were sold and screened in bars, which was another source of revenue for the families and filmmakers. To issue a challenge or summon a man to a fight, families took to making videos to call out the opponent. They don't have the production values of similar professional wrestling hype spots, but they don't lack for color. Watch Big Joe Joyce in an unfortunately hilarious challenge video after the jump (it's not a scene from the film).

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