Murderball Movie Poster Image


Inspiring documentary for older teens and adults.
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 86 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Angry, courageous, and competitive, the players and their families openly discuss their behaviors and attitudes.

Positive role models

Players demonstrate courage and perseverance.


Match and practice camerawork is hard-hitting, graphic surgery footage.


Sexual references and slang.


Strong language, used in anger and sports contests.


Logos at matches; discussion of marketing.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Players drink and smoke at parties.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Murderball is a documentary that features hard-hitting quad rugby scenes. Shot from multiple angles (subjective and objective), the games and practices are rough, exciting, and sometimes unsettling. The players use strong language, drink and smoke, and make slangy references to sexual acts. The film includes some shots of missing limbs, as well as footage of a player in the hospital (and briefly in surgery), following a heart attack.

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro's documentary MURDERBALL delves into quad rugby. The fast and hard sport combines elements of rugby, basketball, roller and demolition derbies, as the players bring pit crews to maintain their tricked-out wheelchairs during matches. Conceived in Canada as "murderball" (then renamed wheelchair or quad rugby), the sport is now organized into international competitions. Murderball is organized to highlight three interrelated storylines. Mark Zupan's background emerges slowly. He was injured in a car accident in 1993. Three years later, he was playing rugby. Passionate, devoted, and supported by his girlfriend, Zupan has found a sense of order and focus in the sport. Similarly committed, Joe Soares is a onetime U.S. star cut from the team when he began to slow down. Frustrated by what he perceived as rejection, Soares started coaching for the Canadian team. Keith Cavill was injured in a motocross accident. His story reveals another angle on quad rugby, in that he enters the film at the start of his recovery, finding in the sport a way to channel his energy and depression. As if to underline this point, the film ends with the players meeting a group of injured Iraq War veterans.

Is it any good?


Rowdy and inspiring, this documentary provides multiple perspectives on what it's like to play quad rugby. The players see themselves as gladiators, and Rubin's innovative camerawork suggests why, alternating between long shots of the arena (bodies and chairs crashing into each other, barreling down the court, scoring and spinning) and close, "wheelchair cam" shots that emphasize the intimacy of all this speed and aggression.

The community of quads -- and potential rugby players -- is not limited to those who have suffered illness or freak accidents. Instead, Murderball suggests, war (and the improved technologies that allow troops to survive devastating wounds) extends the community. It's a smart, sensitive coda for this saga of survival.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the representation of various players' attitudes in Murderball, which range from frustrated, angry, and resolved, to introspective, selfish, and audacious.

  • How does Joe's heart attack frighten and also motivate him?

  • How do the players interact with each other, their families, and partners? How do they work together as teammates, and work against competitors? How do the national designations of teams (USA, Canada, Australia, Netherlands) provide another sort of identification for players?

  • How do the players demonstrate courage and perseverance in Murderball? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 8, 2005
DVD/Streaming release date:November 29, 2005
Cast:Andy Cohn, Joe Soares, Mark Zupan
Directors:Dana Adam Shapiro, Henry Alex Rubin
Character strengths:Courage, Perseverance
Run time:86 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and sexual content

This review of Murderball was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written bylizzard144 April 9, 2008

Good For Older Audience

Very Fascinating Movie. Overall good content, but there is an extended scene about sex after becoming a quadriplegic where they show a video that quadriplegics are given to watch when "learning" how to have sex again. It is basically porn and doesn't add anything to the documentary. There is very strong language and lots of insults between competing teams. I don't think this movie is appropriate for children under 18.
Parent Written byclauarat June 24, 2012

Sports and friendship

The filme shows how sport can give a new meaning to live specially for those who had their lives turned upside down by an accident and became diseabled. The value of friendship is also some of the positive messages of the film.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byTVDirector April 9, 2008

Go See This Movie!

If this true story of quadriplegic rugby players doesn't inspire you in your own life, I feel for you. While some of the action may be a bit intense for younger viewers, and parent do note there is a small video clip in the film that is shown to paralysis victims about sexuality in their lives after their accidents which may not be appropriate for teens, it isn't obscene or lurid in any respect. The violence in this project, unlike the relentless and gruesome blood scenes commonly shown on prime time television, is of a contact sport played by men who haven't given up on life and are passionate about the game. This will be the best film you'll see this summer.