Movie Reviews

DVD Talk

Review by Ron J. Epstein
March 9, 2003

“Why do I have to hate them dad?”

“Because he’s the only thing standing between you and a better life.”

The Feature:

Growing up, I loved wrestling more than any other sport. And no, I’m not just talking about professional wrestling; I’m also talking about amateur wrestling. Unfortunately, I never had the discipline to join my high school team, but I frequently attended the matches, and watched on, as my friends frequently got their butts kicked. It wasn’t until one of my buddies passed out from dehydration, that I learned about wrestling’s dirty little secret . . . cutting weight. In order to make his weight class, he was ordered to lose six pounds in less than a week by the wrestling coach. As a result, he pushed himself so hard to drop the weight, that he almost killed himself by training too hard. With that being said, I have the job of reviewing “Reversal”, a movie about amateur wrestling that deals with the same exact issue, among others.

“Reversal” begins by developing the relationship between seven-year old Leo Leone and his father (Jim Petulla), the coach of his wrestling team. At such a young age, Leo learns how wrestling is a metaphor for everything in life. Together, Leo and his father train for his upcoming match, and I’m left with the uncomfortable feeling that Leo’s father is looking to live vicariously through his son.

It’s 10 years later, and Leo (Danny Mousetis) and his father are still tight, although they don’t seem to have a deep relationship outside of wrestling. It’s very unnerving to see Coach Leone wear Oklahoma T-Shirts, manipulating his son into believing that he really wants to attend the University of Oklahoma. Sure, his intentions are not necessarily bad. It’s obvious that he loves his son, and a college education is an absolute necessity these days; but when you see Leo’s nose bleed in the middle of a conversation, and later, him throwing up after dinner, then you know something is wrong.

Leo begins dating a girl named Shaw (Kelly Vint), who doesn’t fit the “cheerleader” mold that most athletes go after. They have a realistic chemistry that develops over the course of the movie. With her help, Leo is able to realize that he has to make a choice between living his own life, or letting his father continue to live vicariously through him.

“Reversal” is a unique movie, especially because of the fact that it touts a cast of relative unknowns. “Reversal” is more than just the ins and outs of amateur wrestling. It’s about the relationship between fathers and sons, husbands and wives; it’s about taking control of your life; it’s about sacrifice; and it’s about accomplishing the goals you have set for yourself.


“Reversal” is presented in Full Frame 1.33:1. I’m unsure of what the original aspect ratio was, but since the full frame version is the only one available on the market, let’s go with it. Anyways, the movie boasts a rich color palette, as flesh tones look good, while keeping a “dark” feel to the movie at the same time. There is some dirt and artifacting present on the transfer, but nothing so significant that it will hinder your enjoyment of the film.


The audio is presented here in Dolby 2.0. It’s not an intensive soundtrack, and the DVD doesn’t really take advantage of my set up. But overall, everything sounds really good, as dialogue and the score sound clean.


Interactive DVD menu plays the movie’s theme, while offering the choices of “Play Movie”, “Special Features”, “Scene Selection”, “Audio Commentary”, and “Subtitles.”


The makers of “Reversal” have done a good job providing supplements on this DVD. The first one is a commentary by Producer/Actor James Petulla, Wrestling Coach Jack Spates, and 1996 Olympic Gold Medallist Kendall Cross. All three of them have a good time with this commentary, frequently joking around, while offering tidbits about wrestling. It’s interesting how they kept reiterating the good things about wrestling, in spite of the bad. They love wrestling, and it’s obvious that it wasn’t their intentions to put in a negative light in “Reversal.”

There are more special features present on this DVD. They are as follows: “Behind the Scenes” (Behind the camera, and a focus on the composer), “Extras for Wrestlers & Athletes” (weight management, nutritional guidelines, etc), “Reactions” (comments from Kurt Angle, Carl Lewis, Kendall Cross, Shannon Miller, Kenny Monday, Danny Hodge, Cael Sanderson, Cary Kolat, Nancy Schultz, “Sting” Steve Borden, Jack Spates, Myron Cope), “Trailers & TV Spots”, and “Web Links.”

Final Thoughts:

I’m very happy with “Reversal.” It’s a really good independent movie that was given the good DVD treatment (aside from the full frame transfer). Good audio, and tons of extras make this required viewing for wrestling fans, as well as for anyone who was inspired by movies like “Rudy” and “Rocky.”

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