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The Iron Ivan

2014 2h 0m Drama Biography List
Reviews 80% Audience Score Fewer than 50 Ratings
This film features the well-known athlete Ivan Poddubny -- the "Russian Hercules" -- who wrestled for more than 50 years and won tournaments well into his senior years. Read More Read Less
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Audience Reviews

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Audience Member The film "Poddubnyy" is, surprisingly, an excellent Russian biopic who managed to show us the life of a real Russian hero, also revealing the secrets of the "mysterious Russian soul". In fact, the film is an instructive illustration of the Russian proverb "Visiting is good, but at home it is better", after watching which a warm and bright feeling of love for one's homeland and roots remains, one's craving for a simple honest life without all this city fuss, business and dirty money that the American Dream has long and actively imposed on the world. Ivan Poddubny (Mikhail Porechenkov) is the perfect personification of just a Russian peasant: strong, kind and honest, albeit rather naive. From childhood, accustomed by his father (Alexander Mikhailov) to never give up and fight to the end, he used to never lose. And, which is remarkable and unusual, unfortunately, for modern Russian films - here the main character does not even drink. And in general, the consumption of alcoholic beverages on the screen is minimized, which is even somehow unusual after a series of other films, where the topic of drunkenness is central. Is that the character of Roman Madyanov, the greedy leader of the circus, has problems with this. And by the way about him. The story of our hero begins when he, being an ordinary port loader, accidentally finds himself in a circus performance, where he has the opportunity to demonstrate his remarkable physical strength. As a result, the aforementioned hero by the name of Tverdokhlebov, impressed by the abilities of a random spectator, takes him to work to perform at his circus. Ivan naturally agrees, because the fee is high, however, everything goes on smoothly until the director of the circus tells him to lie under the Frenchman at the next performance. Outraged by such a proposal and not wanting to put up with cheating and deceit either now or in the future, our hero refuses and does his own thing, because "Ivan Poddubny will never lie under anyone." After he, together with his beloved Masha (Ekaterina Shpitsa), who also worked for Tverdokhlebov, leaves for Petersburg, where he takes the path of the world champion. History develops when Ivan finds himself in Europe and America, where he is faced with injustice, lies and greed, similar to what he saw in that circus, only multiplied by ten times. Moreover, in those places where he ended up, this is not something that is not condemned by anyone, but is considered the only acceptable norm. Deception, cheating, thirst for profit, striving only for profit and money - this is what drives everyone and everyone in this completely different world, from which it is so alien to just a Russian peasant. The film perfectly shows those striking fundamental differences between two different cultures, different lifestyles, people, opinions and world views, two fundamentally different civilizations: Russia and America, which are still relevant. In contrast to Poddubny, there is his manager Terry (Mikhail Krylov), who, like Ivan, once came to the United States, but, unlike him, forgot his roots and completely absorbed the spirit of America, turning into an American. Particularly indicative of this relationship is the scene where Ivan wakes Terry at four in the morning, asking him to sing with him an old song about a Cossack in a foreign land, which he is and which he once sang at home in the village with close friends and family. But Terry does not understand what is being said, saying that he has long been an American and does not remember this song. In the end, Ivan could not stand being in that very foreign land and, contrary to everything, was leaving for Russia. And not just to Russia, but to his home, to his native village, where everything is exactly the same as in his childhood, quiet and calm. For him, it is more expensive than victories, gold and money, which America can only attract. But, on the other hand, the Americans, who are shown here purely as unprincipled capitalists, only waiting for the opportunity to rob Poddubny and earn money on him in every way, look more like a stereotype so that against their background the right Russian hero appears in an even better light. And, no matter how the picture tries to demonstrate America and Europe for the worse, it's worth recognizing that the structure and genre of the film about the fighter with its ups and downs, and, especially, based on real events, came from Hollywood. Although in many ways the film is original, the motifs of "Raging Bull", "Rocky", "Ali" and many other paintings that have already become classics abroad are inspired throughout the viewing. But, nevertheless, the film at least does not copy recognized masterpieces and tries to show something of its own, Russian, which in itself is commendable. And who would have thought that Gleb Orlov, the director who shot, to put it mildly, the unpleasant comedy Our Russia: Eggs of Fate, in his next film will be able to show, albeit not a masterpiece, but a wave of sound biographical drama of the legendary wrestler, which will succeed even lay in the soul of a simple viewer. And not so much even a drama about a wrestler, but about a simple person striving to return to his native home. Of the minuses, I can only highlight a too scattered chronology. Almost every scene had a different time and place of action, which is why by the middle of the film you start to get confused and have a poor understanding of what is happening, despite the constant caption indicating the name of the city and year. This quite interferes with the perception of the story itself, and the understanding of which event occurred before and which after. This style may seem more dynamic and profitable, but rather, it seems to me, a rather controversial decision by the director. Otherwise, everything is in perfect order. The script, the work of the operator, light, sound, scenery, costumes of that time - everything is on the level. Watching a movie, you understand that it is expensive, that it is. His budget is larger than that of average Russian films, and the shooting took place partially in Paris and New York. Actors, including foreign ones, also coped with their task - each of them in its place and succinctly complements the picture. However, Mikhail Porechenkov is worthy of special mention. Here he revealed himself just one hundred percent. This is without a doubt his best role, in which he perfectly got accustomed and "pulled" on himself the bulk of the film, which without him would certainly not have been so good. Summing up, I can confidently say that "Poddubny" is one of the best Russian films that I have ever seen. He may have some drawbacks, but it is much better than the vast majority of the rest of the films that were released in recent years. I recommend to watch and I wish that as many films as possible were shot. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/31/23 Full Review Read all reviews
The Iron Ivan

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Cast & Crew

Movie Info

Synopsis This film features the well-known athlete Ivan Poddubny -- the "Russian Hercules" -- who wrestled for more than 50 years and won tournaments well into his senior years.
Gleb Orlov
Jurij Korotkov
Drama, Biography
Original Language
Release Date (Streaming)
Mar 23, 2017
2h 0m
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