Movie Reviews

OU Daily


Tuesday, April 23, 2002
by Jeff Johncox
Daily Column Writer


Film captures essence, heart of wrestling


This isn’t a movie about wrestling with Triple H, Diamond Dallas and Stone Cold whatever. This film deals with the trials faced by a high school wrestler in Pennsylvania, real wrestling.

In fact, this film isn’t even really about wrestling, when you get right down to it. It’s about a whole heck of a lot more. A father who pushes his son too hard, the physical dangers faced by wrestlers when they lose too much weight too fast, the budding relationship of first love in high school – these are the main themes of the film. Wrestling is the common element that ties it all together, grounding the film in a firm base.

The whole 15 minutes worth of wrestling footage in this film makes the Matthew Modine wrestling flick Vision Quest look like the wrestling episode of Saved By The Bell.

“They wanted to keep the wrestling really authentic,” Justin Spates said, son of OU wrestling head coach Jack Spates and co-star in the film. “We were actually wrestling. It was hard to watch myself get pinned on the big screen.”


Pin under pressure: Crew members and actors choreograph the pivotal match scene for the wrestling film Reversal: The Movie The action is pretty intense when the film centers on the sport. Most of the film, however, deals with the relationships of the main character, Leo Leone, played by Danny Mousetis, a championship wrestler himself, who lost 20 pounds to play the part of Leo, who’s starving himself to death.

The action is pretty intense when the film centers on the sport. Most of the film, however, deals with the relationships of the main character, Leo Leone, played by Danny Mousetis, a championship wrestler himself, who lost 20 pounds to play the part of Leo, who’s starving himself to death.

Spates plays Leo’s rival on the team, Thurman Ellis, Jr. The premiere for Reversal, held Friday night at Quail Springs Mall, was a virtual who’s who in the wrestling world. OU wrestling head coach Jack Spates and Justin Spates both attended, as did writer/producer James Petulla. Arguably the best collegiate wrestler in history, Iowa State’s Cael Sanderson, also attended and the crowd was made up of mostly wrestling fans looking to see a film that lived up to the sport’s integrity.

The audience responded well to the film and applauding at the end to show their appreciation.

Wrestlers and fans of wrestling — real wrestling — are passionate, serious, and protective of the integrity of their sport. Reversal reflects those qualities well, along with the human qualities of the characters and puts its heart out on the mat.