When you first start watching KNUCKLE you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve stumbled onto the outtakes of an Irish FIGHT CLUB. The story of Irish clans willing to settle their differences through bareknuckle boxing seems like a harmless, if somewhat unnecessarily violent pursuit. After all, the participants are all willing volunteers and there are certainly far worse ways to settle a disagreement than with your fists.
But as the documentary moves through the years it begins to take on an almost tragic flavour. While the adults gleefully pound each other’s faces into raw hamburger their sons and brothers watch, learn and take the feud onto their own shoulders, perpetuating a cycle of blood and brutality with an increasingly tenuous connection to the original quarrel.
As we see innocence and youth casually squandered and watch young men turn into grizzled street brawlers its obvious there’s nothing comical about what’s happening here. For the fighters it’s all about honour and vengeance, but for those of us watching it just seems like a senseless feud better left on the schoolyard.