Saturday, January 30, 2016

Markus vs Karamazoff

“The awful thing is that beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there and the battlefield is the heart of man.” 
 Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Life is a constant struggle, and so is Movimus. In the company's latest release, Dave Markus and Ivan Karamazoff grapple for 25 minutes, with one submission at the very end. I have been a mark for Markus from his first match a year and a half ago, and though I'd like him to gain 30 or so pounds, the relatively new Karamazoff has a hipster-meets-Quaker look that makes me warm to him on first sight, not to mention the man's tenacity in combat against the somewhat heavier and more solidly packed Dave. This is Ivan's 5th match at Movimus, Dave's 19th. Both men obviously have trained. They are not just horsing around.

Unlike pro wrestling, a match like this one can't be analyzed as drama. A breakdown of the plot, such as it is, yields only struggle-struggle-struggle-struggle-struggle-dominance. No arc, no exposition (unless warm-up shots count), no crisis beyond the fact that there are two opponents, tension building in tiny, quiet increments, a hundred minuscule turning points, and a long-delayed tap-out finish. 

Karamazoff and Markus alike maintain the equanimity of chess players from beginning to end. You get no sense of their emotions beyond determination and perseverance. What you do get is chess players' patience and strategy. Every move has a meaning--but a strategic not symbolic one. Nothing is as elemental or as engrossing as two men wrestling, really wrestling. There is no posturing. There are no cheap shots and quick pay-offs. The struggle is the thing, beautiful and hypnotizing.

This is a fine match, one of the better products of a company that has produced many fine matches. It's also the first Movimus match shot in 2016, filmed four days ago on Tuesday, so fresh from the mat you can almost feel the body heat.

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