November 22, 2011


Knuckle"Knuckle" is the result of documentarian Ian Palmer's 12 years spent following a decades-long feud between an Irish clan known as Traveler. On one side of the cousin-connected rivalry are the Quinn McDonaghs.

The McDonagh community is primarily represented by their charismatic patriarch James, whose calm demeanor barely masks a seething fury. At the other end of the group's fire-hot enmity is Big Joe Joyce, a hulk of a man with inhuman deep-set coal-black eyes and a penchant for cursing up a blue streak about the vileness of the McDonagh tribe. The feud gets rekindled when one side decides to bait the other into privately supervised fistfights with video-recorded invitations.

Why Irish Fighting Doc 'Knuckle' Gained Interest From Hollywood and HBO |  IndieWire

The rural road brawls are set with family-supported bets that climb from 20,000 to 120,000 euros. Graphic video footage of the hate-fueled blood sport matches are interspersed with interview segments with the bile-spewing men on both sides of the battle as they give their flawed persona logic for engaging in the violent activity. The roughly expressed bone of contention for the current round of heated feuding dates back to a shooting in 1992 that left a Joyce family member dead.

Knuckle' Joint: Traveller Clans, Endlessly At Odds : NPR

More than just an exploration of Irish lower class self-identity, "Knuckle" symptomatically examines the ways wars are initiated, sustained, and prolonged. Enemies are verbally dehumanized as "monkeys" or "dirt." As is typically the case, open communication proves to be the most effective tool in brokering a truce. “Knuckle” is a candid warts-and-all documentary that touches on a raw nerve of human behavior. The truth hurts.

Director Ian Palmer and James Quinn McDonagh KNUCKLE Interview

Rated R. 85 mins.

3 Stars

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Cole Smithey on Patreon


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Featured Video

SMART NEW MEDIA® Custom Videos



Throwback Thursday

Podcast Series