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Blood & Guts has half nelson on heroism
By GEORGE ANTHONY - Toronto Sun
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Micheline Lanctot and William Smith

Blood & Guts, now at the Imperial Six, is a robust, lively film Entertainment about the tacky side of professional wrestling.

The deceptively simply plot casts William Smith as an aging muscleman who's obviously seen better days. His manager (Henry Beckman) still treats him like a champ but can't resist the show biz possibilities of teaming him up with potentially hot property Brian Clarke, a young crowd-pleaser on the rise.

Smith and Clarke have the makings of a strong boxoffice duo, but the success they both want so badly is detoured when Smith's live-in lady, Micheline Lanctot, falls for the young up-and-comer.

Currently nominated for 11 Canadian 'Oscars,' Blood & Guts is the latest film by director Paul Lynch, whose uncanny affinity for textures -- pastoral and human -- added untold dimensions to his last effort, The Hard Part Begins.

In Blood & Guts he presents a wonderful worm's eye view of second-rate wrestlers on the try-out circuit, most of them destined to travel back roads forever. The action (and there's plenty of it) is fast, funny and often outrageous, a unique blend of sport and vaudeville that suggest what might have happened if Roman gladiators had to play Poughkeepsie.


Micheline Lanctot and William Smith away from the ring
Lynch also seems to be an Actor's Director. He coaxed fine work from Donnelly Rhodes as the used-up country & western hero of Hard Part Begins, and he's even more successful here. Smith is splendid as the aging war horse who is still waiting for his Big Moment; Ms. Lanctot is superb as the feisty wrestling wench who wearies of watching over him; and Beckman's portrayal of their faithful manager-mentor is even more effective than his memorable performances in Why Rock The Boat and Between Friends.

Blood & Guts, incidentally, is not half as bloody as its title suggests. Lynch probably should have called it Power & Style, because it's got plenty of both. But then you wouldn't know how much fun it is, or what a good time you'll have watching it. Blood & Guts is one of the year's sneakiest cinema treats -- and much more fun than Lord Athol Layton.

RELATED LINKS

  • More on Blood & Guts
  • The SLAM! Wrestling Movie Database