Murderball: A Movie Review

I saw Murderball at the Uptown Theater with a couple of friends, one of whom told me that I “…just need to see this show.”

Murderball is a sport created to give quadriplegics an outlet for their frustration about life. The sport is played on a basketball court with no baskets, just a goal line on each end of the court. You must cross the goal line with the ball to score. I had never heard of the game until this movie, and I do not know if there are teams in the Twin City area. It was a part of the 2004 Paralympics so it is a worldwide sport.

I am a quad, a Cervical-5, 4 or C5-C4, which defines the location of my neck and spinal cord injury and the effects of that type injury as the movie explains and illustrates quite well. The movie goes into depth into C6, C7 injuries, which is where most of the characters have injuries that are portrayed in Murderball. The muscles that are used for this game are biceps, triceps, hand and wrist strength with very strong shoulders and neck all of which are there and are developed by playing the game and are more available to C6, C7 level Quads.

The sport is like any other sport that tries to stop their opponent from scoring to the point of injuring another person (like U.S. football). The players are equipped with metal bumpers on the front and back of their wheelchair and the wheel spokes are covered, but the players wear no helmet, shoulder pads, padded gloves, shin guards or other protective gear. Opponents ram each other’s wheelchairs for the purpose of tipping them over many times throughout the game.

I thought the most interesting parts of the movie were the social relationship aspects of a male quad having to do with their sexuality and the sexual methods to the familial enter-changes. One of the first things a male quad asks after waking up from the trauma of an accident is “will I screw again.” Murderball does a good job of addressing the sexual questions that are often raised after an injury and looking at some of the answers given by the characters with very frank language of how this has affected their lives. As most families go, they adapted and adjusted to the new situation of their injury and how it impacted their family dynamics.

As a male quad I find the fanaticism of athletics of this type boring. But I did see the social value of this movie in bringing a broader perspective and better understanding of life as a male quad into the mainstream. The movie showed how the quads came into acceptance of their new lives and realized at some point that they would have sex again and their families would always love them.