Wednesday 8 July 2015

The Old Boys DVD Review By Richard Edmund

'The Old Boys', a new documentary from director Vikram Rekhi, provides a behind-the-scenes look at the lives of some of the legends of the wrestling business in their own words. Filmed over a number of years, the documentary boasts an impressive array of interview subjects, from the likes of Ted DiBiase, Jake Roberts, Honky Tonk Man, Demolition, Terry Funk & The New Age Outlaws to Diana Hart-Smith, Dynamite Kid, Paul Roma, Roddy Piper & The Iron Sheik. In a mixture of sit-down interviews and footage from convention panels and autograph signings, the film covers a number of topics and has a reflective tone as the wrestlers look back on their careers and the business as a whole, as well as their lives now their time in the ring has come to a close. 

For the most part it remains a light-hearted affair with many funny stories from the road and anecdotes, but it takes a sombre turn when talking about subjects such as the untimely deaths of Owen Hart and others, or the personal toll the wrestling business can have on the lives of the wrestlers and their families. However, it never dwells too long on any one subject, which is probably for the best in certain cases, such as Marty Jannetty retelling the oft told story of how Shawn Michaels screwed him over, or Paul Roma's obvious bitterness about how the wrestling world treated him during his career. 

The film jumps back and forth from one subject to another and, while it was definitely an enjoyable watch, there wasn't much of a sense of structure to the piece. It felt very disjointed at times and the segues were often abrupt, which even one of the interviewees, Roddy Piper, remarks upon at one point. But for what it lacks in order it makes up for in charm. There's a definite candid approach to the interviews and typically outspoken guys like The Iron Sheik or Honky Tonk Man pull no punches, while others are just happy to share their stories and words of wisdom for future generations.

There's some genuinely funny and personal moments as well, with audio of one of Dynamite Kid & Davey Boy Smith's notorious prank phone calls, or The Iron Sheik recalling Vince McMahon's difficulty in conveying to Sheiky-baby that he'd tested positive for cocaine, as well as footage from the British Bulldog's wedding. We get to see the wrestlers at work on the merchandise table and many talk about how much they enjoy the conventions and giving something back to the fans. The film also takes a brief look at one of wrestling's stranger figures, Virgil, who's only too happy to show how he works the crowds and gets a sale from people who often don't know who he is.

Overall 'The Old Boys' is a well produced and entertaining film. There's a few niggling complaints with the audio levels in certain sections, especially with the footage from the busy autograph tables, and while on-screen subtitles appeared for the off-screen interviewer's questions, they perhaps would've been handy for some of the more incoherent cast members as well, such as Iron Sheik or Dynamite Kid. The aforementioned structural choices may make the film seem somewhat disjointed, but as a documentary it's never less than engaging and for fans of old school wrestling it provides a good slice of life look at how the wrestlers view their careers and the wrestling business at large.

'The Old Boys' is available now on DVD or on-demand at

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