Vampiro: Angel, Devil, Hero Lee Demarbe

Vampiro: Angel, Devil, Hero Lee Demarbe
This is fortuitous timing for a wrestling documentary that hopes to escape the ghetto of niche interest. Mickey Rourke could win an Oscar for The Wrestler and Canadian ring veteran Vampiro is an equally bruised and aging legend of the squared circle, although considerably more successful in his twilight years than Randy the Ram. The mega-star in Mexico stays loyal to the grassroots level and performs in dirty gyms weekly despite launching his own promotion, potentially worth millions if it succeeds. More similarities are Vampiro's kinetic energy and indomitable passion for his art form. Despite a host of serious issues, he's easy to root for, much like fellow Canadian Chris Benoit before his tragic end. Vampiro (born Ian Hodgkinson) was raped twice as a teenage boy, a heavy revelation in a documentary that pushes the pedal on stylistic rock'n'roll, but it helps portray wrestling as a complex business that attracts complex people. It's heartening to see wrestling getting a little love, independent of the WWE, in a reasonably well-made documentary. A story like Vampiro's beats the broadly marketed WWE product like some forgettable ham-and-egger because the real lives of wrestlers are so often tragic tales of success and failure, filled with drugs, violence, sexual promiscuity and personal struggles. But try to advocate wrestling's delightful excess to a hipster and they won't understand the bright colours and silly repartee as the ultimate '80s throwback comfort food - they only bought the synthesized music and tight Mötley Crüe tees because they were repackaged for their approved consumption. Wrestling has generally always been under the cultural radar despite spikes in popularity but never it is never vanished, just throbbed like an angry boil beneath the surface of our culture, with its racist propaganda as humour and homoerotic obviousness - ah, wrestling where are your hipster acolytes? (Anchor Bay Entertainment Canada/Sound Venture/Zed Filmworks)