Movie Review: The Sheik

the sheik 1For decades he has been professional wrestling’s man you love to hate. But a new film recounting his extraordinary life story will fill WWE fans and non-fans alike with nothing but love for the imposing star known as The Iron Sheik.

Now out on DVD, The Sheik is a fascinating documentary, warts and all, looking at this iconic character and the man who played him, Khosrow Ali Vaziri.

Khosrow Ali Vaziri was born in Iran in 1942, establishing a name for himself as an amateur wrestler, a bodyguard for the Shah of Iran, and an athlete representing his home country in the 1968 Summer Olympics. In the early 1970s, following the unexpected and controversial death of his good friend and Olympic wrestling gold medalist Gholamreza Takhti, Vaziri left Iran to pursue the American Dream. His journey to the United States began one of the most spectacular professional wrestling careers in modern history.

The documentary is an amazing one really diving in to the man, his rise to fame, and his impact on wrestling. The documentary does an excellent job not just describing his life, but also putting his rise into the political context of the time, the 70s and 80s. It’s brutally honest in its interpretation of the time and breaks down the brilliant use of the character to not just really launch Vaziri’s career but how it was a key part to make the WWE (WWF at the time) what it is today.

But, the documentary is more than just wrestling, it’s also about Vaziri the man and the mistakes and demons he has. It’s truly the rise, fall, and rise again of the main. I mentioned warts and all and there’s not just talk of drugs but also shows it. The raw look into the life of the wrestler reminds me of another documentary Beyond the Mat which too showed a behind the curtain peak at that life.

The Iron Sheik was wrestling when I was watching during the 80s, and I remember booing him in the ring, but I didn’t know much about the man behind the character. After watching this, I walk away thinking of how complicated he was and his impact on the sport. I went in not knowing much and it was clear within the first 15 minutes this is a man who has an interesting story to tell and an interesting life lived.

Wrestling fans will likely love this film, but even those who didn’t grow up on sports entertainment there’s more than enough there to keep you entertained and also to get you to think at times. The film clocks in at a little over an hour and a half, but goes by quick as it deftly weaves a narrative through Vaziri’s past, present and future. A fascinating film about what turns out to be a fascinating man.

Overall Rating: 8.7

Dark Sky Films provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review