Film Review – Knuckle (2011)


Title – Knuckle (2011)

Director – Ian Palmer: feature debut

Cast – James Quinn McDonagh, Michael Quinn McDonagh, Paddy Quinn McDonagh

Plot – A documentary spanning 12 years set in the brutal world of Irish-Traveller bare knuckle fights. Palmer’s film focusses it’s attention on the bitter family feud between the McDonagh’s and a rival clan.

“That’s a psychopath, that fella”

Review by Eddie on 24/01/2014

Ian Palmer’s fascinating look into the oft hidden world of traveling Irish gypsies and there subsequent bare knuckle boxing is a raw unflinching documentary that while not offering any concrete answers as to why these things happen it’s still a must see account of some wholly original real life characters and lifestyles.

Make no doubt about it, you will need to have subtitles on for Knuckle for it features a set of Irish men whose accent is so thick you would be hard pressed to understand a single sentence. The focus of Knuckle and these men is on James McDonagh, a man who has never lost a fight and amongst his fellow kin is likened to some sort of Irish boxing God. James is a bewildering character but an ever watchable one; witness as he proclaims his fighting days are over only to again return to the arena to uphold is families name once more. Capturing James and his family over twelve years is director Palmer who deserves much credit for his work here.

Palmer’s direction is not professional in any stretch of the imagination but what it is true to the subject and his ability to have an unflinching eye on proceedings of these family feuds should be commended. With Palmer’s hand behind camera the film never feels like it is taking a side in the story or pointing fingers at anyone whether they seem right or wrong, it’s a bold directional decision yet allows the film to play out in non-intrusive way.

Knuckle is a gritty, violent film that some will find truly repulsive, Knuckle is also a must see for what happens in this story is real, the people are real and the emotions are real. If someone were to make a movie of this story it would seem unrealistic yet here we have an unquestionably honest look at a world that many would prefer not to acknowledge, put it this way: if you thought Brad Pitt was the quintessential gypsy boxer you ain’t seen nothing yet.

4 swollen knuckles out of 5

14 responses to “Film Review – Knuckle (2011)

  1. I think you just convinced me to watch a film. This looks incredibly interesting, and I am interested to see these bigger than life personalities if I do end up getting around to it. Very well written review.

  2. Good review Eddie. Gosh, I haven’t seen this one in awhile, but I remember it being very interesting. Mainly because of how much video they were actually supposed to get. Without that, the documentary wouldn’t have been nearly as good, or even worth watching.

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