DIR: Ian Palmer • PRO: Nick Fraser, Teddy Leifer, Alan Maher, Ian Palmer • DOP: Ian Palmer • ED: Oliver Huddleston
Not one to be watched when hungover, or in any way queasy, Knuckle tells the violent story of the bareknuckle boxing between feuding Traveler families. Filmed epically over the course of twelve years, filmmaker Ian Palmer mainly follows James Quinn McDonagh, known as the ‘King of the Gypsies’ and his brother Michael, capturing their fights, thoughts, and the bitter feuding with their family, the Joyces and the Nevins.
Now for the disclaimer; the violence is pretty nasty and a chunk of the footage is shaky and of very low quality – however this can all be easily forgiven as the subject matter pulls heavy punches. There really are some insightful and honest sound bites amongst the gore, mixed nicely with wonderfully eccentric characters and lots of conflict to give a potent cocktail of engrossment, leaving the audience punch-drunk.
Overall Knuckle goes a few rounds too many in the middle and, not to give too much away, the end is missing a feeling of closure. But perhaps this is below the belt as that is the nature of ongoing disputes. Not one to stay on the ropes, Ian really gets right in the middle of this rarely-glimpsed world. It’s clear from his voiceovered musings and the sheer timescale of the project, that he has had a great deal invested in this, and it really has paid off.
Interesting, touching and at times downright hilarious, Knuckle is a compelling and fascinating film. A knockout if you will!
Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
Knuckle is released on 5th August 2011