One of my favorite movies of 2010 was the documentary Restrepo, an unusually tender and intimate portrayal of US soldiers in Afghanistan. The film shows the bonding of young men during wartime. The film is neither pro- nor anti-war. It is, quite simply, a love story, for which the war is a backdrop and a catalyst. It was a great loss then--and I felt it as such, personally--when British-American photojournalist and the film's co-director Tim Hetherington was killed last month in Misrata, at the front lines of the Libyan civil war. (Hetherington's book, Infidel, published last year, is another testament to male friendship and the fundamental humanity of soldiers--with its poignant portraits of the men sleeping in their bunks, their tattoos, their possessions, their horseplay, and their work. It's worth a place on your bookshelves.)
I have mentioned before that I have a special feeling for soldiers. I have never been one, but I grew up around them. Some of my best and most memorable students have been soldiers, many of them recent veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. So it is predictable that I would be drawn to Krushco's latest video release, Underground Wrestling 67--Marine Mash-Up, featuring two unidentified Marines wrestling on mats. I'm assuming this match was shot in the mid-1990s, about the same time as Krushco's Marine Wrestling, released last year. The guy in red in the earlier video returns in this video, this time filling out the stars and stripes. He kicked ass then, and he kicks ass here.
Like almost everything Krushco puts out, this video is minimalist--no dramatic angle, no gimmicks, not a lot of trash talk, no ring ropes or turnbuckles, no colorful managers or valets, no posedowns, no pulled punches. What you get is strenuous wrestling. Two guys with hand-to-hand combat training showing what they can do. The guy in gold trunks is big, hairy, muscular, intimidating, but he's no match for the hellfire in red, white, and blue, who's smaller, but faster, more agile, and willing to go for the jugular.
Individual rounds are separated by fades to black. Each new round finds the men refreshed and ready to fight some more. Nobody is keeping score, it seems. Nobody's arm is raised in victory at the end (though there's a clear and unmistakable sense of who dominates). Nobody gets a belt or a trophy. No grudges to settle, no assholes to ream, just pure fighting spirit. Fighting for fight's sake is what you get. These guys work up a slick sweat, go at each other with everything they've got, target some mean punches where they know they'll count, and don't give up till they feel something about to snap.
The guy in the stars and stripes looks like a younger, leaner version of the Irish actor Ray Stevenson, and that is perfectly all right by me. More impressive than his trim physique and sharp good looks is the energy he puts into his assault. The man is cocky. And he likes to beat up dudes. When he fights he literally goes "Rrrroar!" He does not like it when anyone else gets the upper hand. You can see that much in his face. And heaven help the guy once stars-and-stripes guy turns the tables--and make no mistake about it, with this guy, the tables will always get turned.
This is one swell video. It's not to everyone's tastes, perhaps. You have to like fighting more than striking poses. You have to like grit and grunt more than flash and attitude. Those of you who already know and love Krushco's stuff have probably watched this video already. If you've never liked Krushco's stuff, there's a good possibility that there's something here to win you over, but really it is what it is. Hopefully my description is clear enough to let you know whether it's for you. I happen to think what it is is pretty fucking hot.