Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Review Of 'Generation Iron'

I saw 'Generation Iron' opening day (September 20th) and I must say that director Vlad Yudin struck gold with this docudrama.  It was crafted very well from beginning to end (even though the ending more or less just "fell off").  However, as beautiful as this film was it is my opinion that only true fans of competitive bodybuilding will be able to emotionally connect to it!  Bodybuilding is incredibly fascinating with an unspoken camaraderie among those who eat, live and breathe the sport and it can be appreciated for its roots of hard work, determination, and creativity.

Just like in the 70's bodybuilding-driven film, 'Pumping Iron', the rivalry of two characters are exploited the most.  In 'Pumping Iron' you had Arnold Schwarzenegger vs. Lou Ferrigno and in 'Generation Iron', you have Phil Heath vs. Kai Greene.  Both Schwarzenegger and Heath are the champions who are seen as villains and trouble makers, while Ferrigno and Greene are the guys toiling away in obscurity just waiting for their chance to claim the coveted Mr. Olympia title.  However, the clear distinction between the two rivalries is that Phil Heath seems to genuinely dislike Kai Greene and what he represents-no one really knows why though.  He sees Greene as a peasant that is in no way deserving of being on the same stage as him.  In some parts of the document, Heath just downright disrespects Greene and even goes as far as to question if he (Greene) knows what a resume' is-damn that's cold!  But of course, it makes for great entertainment.  Kai simply refers to Phil as the guy who has been the recipient of many "gifts" in his short career and many who have been following Heath's stellar career would agree with that assessment.  Moving on.....

Ben Pakulski is like the mad scientist of the documentary.  His training philosophy is based in elements of performance-enhancing technology.  The director Vlad Yudin refers to Pakulski as the "Ivan Drago" of the movie.  What's also interesting is that Ben doesn't so much care for Heath or Branch Warren but only his dislike for Heath is explained.  Hmmm...

Dennis Wolf is seen jetting off to a screen reading which turns out to be one of the comedic scenes of the film.  As you see him diving into the pool in the rear of his home, it's obvious that Wolf enjoys the lasting sun of Vegas over his native Germany.  He's happily married with a step-daughter who clearly loves him like a biological father.

Branch Warren enjoys living life to the fullest and being a family man on his ranch complete with a stately manor.  Outside of tending to his horses, Branch can be found alongside Johnnie Jackson killing it in the ever-so-dirty Metroflex Gym-dust and chalk flying, sweat pouring and mind-numbing aggression!

Roelly Winklaar appears to be the tortured soul in the documentary but his savior is Sibil Peeters who not only trains him in his quests for victories but also helps him believe in himself and keep his eyes on the prize.  Another interesting character is Hidetada Yamagishi who lacks firm support from his Japan-based family.  And even though he is married, his wife still doesn't seem to fully grasp the magnitude of his being a professional bodybuilder.

Last but not least, you have Victor Martinez who at the beginning of the film is seen being released from jail due to immigration violations that took place shortly after the 2011 Mr. Olympia.  In my opinion, Victor is the character that viewers will feel the most sorry for.  His troubled past and constant misfortunes in the present seem to plague him and prevent him from being able to realize his full potential as an IFBB pro but this guy has the heart of a champion and it's easy to see that all he wants to do is take care of his family and be the best at all that he does.

Overall, the movie satisfies.  It provides pretty good insight on the lives of seven pro bodybuilders at the top of their game.  It covers their successes, failures, struggles, and their philosophies.  The use of anabolic steroids is also candidly talked about by industry "experts" but of course the subject is not deeply dissected; you are better of doing a search on YouTube or watching the documentary 'Bigger Stronger Faster' for that.

Narrated by Mickey Rourke, the film boasts appearances by celebrities as well as present and past bodybuilding champions such as Lou Ferrigno, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Mike Katz-all three men having appeared in the original cult classic 'Pumping Iron'.

One other point about the cast of 'Generation Iron', is that unlike the subjects of 'Pumping Iron', there is no true camaraderie with the modern athletes; only one of the cast members is shown training with a fellow IFBB pro bodybuilder in the entire film.  Clearly the stakes are higher and it appears that being a champion at the top creates division by default, so all of the guys are in their own space, doing their own thing.

This movie may not land a solid punch in theaters but I have to take my hat off to Vlad Yudin for such a great film.  As a fan of bodybuilding, I love to see the sport get some sort of "outside" exposure and I wholeheartedly support it!


  1. Good review bro! Now I just gotta watch it myself.

  2. Thanks @Ray S! It's definitely a great flick bro!

  3. That review was great, I'm going to go see it for sure. Thanks!


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