Redress – I’m awful at watching films, even films based around my other interests (i.e. video games, wrestling) I hadn’t even heard of this film, so I reckon this is a good place to start my film watching adventures.
I had problems trying to find a starting point for my film redresses. I couldn’t just pick one specific film as there are hundreds of films I haven’t seen. So I looked a bit deeper…one of the things that frustrates me about my film viewing habit is that it extends to all films. I’m not someone who just watches films involving their interests…I don’t watch films anymore period.
So, when I saw Chokeslam on Sky Movies, it seemed a good starting place for me. It’s a comedy film about relationships and it’s about wrestling. That’s two subjects I’m interesting in watching films about. Having not heard of this film before is even better as I have no expectations going in.
Let’s give it a chance…
The film wins me over straight away by plunging straight into the plot and making me laugh. Lead character Corey stops a robbery of his deli by recognizing the robber as a former high school football star and learns his ex, now a famous wrestler, is going to their high school 10 year reunion that night. There is no time wasted here at all and I like it. In 15 mins, I know the main characters, their motivations and the back story. It’s a big thing with me – If I don’t know or care about a character’s motivations, then I don’t care full stop.
So…Sheena “Smasheena” De Wilde comes back to the high school reunion and ends up putting Corey in the hospital via accident. The fight scene involves someone getting the Giant Swing (basically, grab someone by their ankles and spin them round and round) and looks a bit silly, but I can deal with it, it’s not ‘The Wrestler’ or anything. We find out that Corey proposed to Sheena at her leaving do, she rejected him and Corey has been a laughing stock ever since.
The wrestling cameos come in around 25 minutes in (after a great scene where Sheena is asked to flirt with someone at a art gallery fund raiser…only to find the guy wants to talk about wrestling legends). After Corey helps Sheena escape, they run to the exchange mall where Lance Storm is wrestling a masked guy, watched by promoter Mick Foley. It’s pretty random, but a cool scene. We also find out that Sheena is dating her manager, Tab and she really just wants to quit wrestling.
Corey’s plan is to help Sheena end her career by staging her retirement match. I laughed at this bit…doesn’t Corey know that wrestlers never retire? Has he never heard of Terry Funk? If Corey tries to get Sheena to retire via retirement match stipulation, then Chokeslam might have more sequels than Friday 13th…
Anyway, Luke puts all the flyers up without Corey telling Sheena and Angel (ex Impact Knockout Chelsea Green) threatens Sheena at a press conference…great plan. Corey’s next plan, to wrestle for the right to go ahead with the retirement match sees him beaten up…and get a wooden stake from the fence stuck in his arse for his troubles.
The next scene, in the hospital, is actually quite nice. Corey explains that he’s had the whole issue hanging over his head for ten years and you can see him and Sheena bonding a bit. We then get a booking meeting where Lance Storm gets to use his ‘If I can be serious’ catchphrase. I’d argue this last paragraph covers the best five minutes of the film so far. The gist of the booking meeting is Tad takes control of the retirement show, to Corey’s consternation. To be fair, he seems the most qualified…Corey wanted pyro in a small hall with what looks like wooden seats!
The retirement match then comes up next, with thirty seven minutes of the film left. I got two conclusions. 1) this match is going to be a long one and 2) Damn Kevin Smith, the number 37 follows me around, every since I watch Clerks….The retirement match action is decent, though Sheena’s chokeslam finish is a strange choice (it’s a move used by huge wrestlers like The Undertaker, not an average size woman) and the three count is insanely quick. Screwjob? Anyway, Sheena wins and Tad unveils his evil plan – he’s looking to have Sheena continue to wrestle, under the guise of this being her retirement ‘tour.’ This tour starts with another match in the same venue the next night…making Sheena’s retirement the shortest since Curt Hennig in WCW.
There’s some good tense scenes next as the story progresses. Sheena learns that Luke caused Corey to fall off the sign, which people thought was a suicide attempt after Sheena rejected his proposal, Sheena and Corey fall out, Sheena and Tad end their relationship…a lot happens in ten minutes, but again, I like how this film gets to the point. There are no wasted scenes.
So, onto the real final match (of about 1,000 if Tad has his way), and it’s a ‘double cross’ as Sheena is matched with the massive Merciless Mordecai (played by New Japan wrestler Harry Smith). We established earlier in the film that Mordecai works ‘stiff’ (legitimately hits hard) but this is almost treated like a real fight, as opposed to earlier in the film when we saw Sheena rehearse a match with Angel. Tad and Corey end up brawling too, entertaining the crowd no end.
The match ends with a beaten up Tad and Mordecai and Sheena responding to Corey’s proposal attempt with her chokeslam. Naturally, this is a work for the fans and Sheena and Corey meet and reconcile, with Corey leaving with Sheena to wrestle in Japan. So basically, Chokeslam stays true to pro wrestling by reneging on a retirement stipulation…..
Verdict – Overall, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Chokeslam. I was expecting a silly gross out comedy, but it’s actually a wry, fun little film with a fairly accurate treatment of pro wrestling. It’s actually inspired me to watch more films on pro wrestling and truthfully, more films full stop. If I had to rate Chokeslam, I’d probably say it’s a 3/5 – it’s nothing special and will make you smile rather than laugh, but it’s a sleek film that is actually fairly respectful to the subject matter. I’d recommend Chokeslam to any wrestling fans looking for a easy comedy film to watch.