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Ian Palmer (2011)

15 Certificate


Our Score
More "My Big Fat Gypsy Punch-Up" than Raging Bull, this engrossing documentary nonetheless gives an insight into Irish Traveller culture and the secret world of bare-knuckle boxing. Director Ian Palmer was first asked to record a single fight for a bit of extra cash, but ended up filming on-and-off for 12 years. Taking place down country lanes and in car parks, bouts see men from rival clans slugging it out until one gives up or is knocked out - and while some are over in seconds, one goes on for over two hours. The main contenders are James Quinn McDonagh and his younger brother Michael, and Palmer reveals how fighting is bound up with their sense of family identity and loyalty; the Quinn McDonaghs and two other clans, the Joyces and the Nevins, have been feuding for years. Their home-made videos goading each other to fight are highly entertaining - but there's tragedy behind the bravado. A palpable weight of expectation hangs over "King of the Gypsies" James, who, ironically, comes across as rather a sensitive soul. It's all a little rough and ready, and by its nature rather repetitive, but as a look inside a normally hidden part of an already insular culture, Knuckle packs a genuine punch.


Premiere. Documentary examining the secretive world of bare-knuckle boxing among Ireland's travellers over the course of 12 years. The film focuses on a long-running feud between two rival families, and how a series of brutal bouts take place between representatives of the two clans.

Cast & Crew

Director Ian Palmer

Other Information

Language: English Colour Theatrical distributor: Revolver Guidance: Violence, swearing. Available on: Available on DVD Released on: 5 Aug 2011


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