Knuckle is all about travellers and the bare-knuckle fighting they partake in, particularly the Quinn McDonagh family and the Joyce family, although it takes in many more families and rivalries as well.
This is the second such documentary I’ve watched recently, the first was on Channel 4 in the UK called Gypsy Blood.
Ian Palmer is the man behind the camera for Knuckle, he started filming the fighting almost by accident. He was asked to film a wedding between cousins and was then asked to film a fight, for the next nine to ten years Palmer filmed lots of fights.
It’s a fascinating world where videos and DVDs are sent backwards and forwards between rivals taunting each other and asking for fights.
The fights themselves are pre-arranged with fighters even having time to train beforehand. They are refereed by mutually chosen travellers from other families and rules such as no kicking, biting or head butting are explained but not always kept to.
The fighting is bloody and brutal and for those wondering if there’s any skill involved, one fight does involve a ‘prize’ bare-knuckle fighter, James Quinn McDonagh, and a lad who has had a few fights in the ring…he loses.
For me, Gypsy Blood is a far better documentary as it takes in much more of the travellers lives as well as the fighting (there’s a lot less fighting in Gypsy Blood than Knuckle).
Palmer admits he begins to get a thrill for the fighting and becomes slightly less interested in the reason why the rivals are fighting, something they are unwilling to tell him for quite a few years, though eventually you do find out.
It’s good, and the subtitles certainly help at times. Not one to watch if you don’t like blood!