Non-Wrestling Fans React To Being Dragged Into Our Film
CHICAGO -- TODAY IS YOUR LAST CHANCE TO MEET SCOTT HALL AKA "RAZOR RAMON" at the screening of "The Resurrection of Jake the Snake" - at 3pm and 5pm today only. Get your tickets ASAP at http://www.hollywoodblvdcinema.com/movies/celebrity-events/celebrity-event-jake-the-snake/?back=moviesPosted by Resurrection of Jake the Snake on Thursday, October 8, 2015
The Resurrection of Jake The Snake is a tense, hour-and-a-half sojourn where wrestling icon Jake “The Snake” Roberts gets acquainted with Aurelian Smith Jr. (his real-life persona) Throughout this cautionary tale, which is mixed with poignant moments of triumph, it’s anybody’s guess which persona will outlast the other.
Directed by Steve Yu, the documentary follows Jake Roberts as he moves in with fellow wrestling legend Diamond Dallas Page for an ambitious live-in rehab stint intended to save Roberts’ life. Page’s mixture of Yoga, accountability and relentless positivity are all primary tools employed with the hope of keeping Roberts clean and sober.
The film’s greatest virtue is certainly the raw, unguarded moments that Yu is able to capture while interacting with the wrestlers. Roberts’ sometimes violent emotional swings between anger, fear and hope and Page’s steadfast patience and support reveal a relationship that goes well beyond professional respect to affirm a bond of love and friendship that can withstand challenges even professional wrestlers hesitate to face.
Hats off also go to director Steve Yu for wisely selecting what footage to use and what not to use, and also making the decision to not overburden the documentary with interviews from fellow wrestlers outside of the beginning and ending, which is where they do fit. It allows audiences to just get sucked into a very personal story of a friend and mentor doing everything he can to get the lives of his buddies back on track. I don’t know if The Resurrection of Jake The Snake Roberts will get the awards recognition it deserves, but it is the best documentary of 2015.
“I don’t have bad days any more,” explained Roberts. “You have to realize what I considered a bad day. When I woke up in the morning, I was depressed. But I’m not tormented like I was. I didn’t know I was suffering from depression, I just thought I needed a drink.
“I deal with everything daily. I don’t let my emotions build up. I have emotions now. I cry, I get happy. For so many years, I would never be happy. I actually made an interview out of that, ‘Just because I’m smiling doesn’t mean I’m happy.’ That’s where I was at, but I am not there any longer.”
Jake sets a goal for himself by declaring his intentions to wrestle in one of WWE’s biggest matches, the Royal Rumble. His desire to make this a reality serves as a central focal point because Jake’s path towards sobriety will be a never-ending one. The fact that Roberts has a clear-cut objective, abstinence from alcohol, makes you want to cheer him even more.
The documentary is beautifully shot from the opening credits to the final frame. The film contains official footage from Jake Roberts’ WWE days, which is a real treat since the company is usually hard-pressed to sell the rights for their content to be used in movies and television.
The visuals of him in his prime, and then seeing him him 23 years removed from his prime and at his worst, amplifies the need for intervention, making this voyage towards wellness a powerful observation of the human spirit.
The three begin working together towards bettering their bodies and their lives: Hall comes to them in a wheelchair, and both Roberts and Hall have severely damaged family bonds. Though much progress is made in Page’s “Accountability Crib,” as he calls his home, Roberts and Hall still experience an occasional slip in their sobriety, which adds to the tension of the group and of the film. The Resurrection of Jake the Snake is a hard testament that we all grow old, and a firm reminder to the importance of taking care of both one’s body and one’s mind
While Roberts’ relationship with Page is at the centre of the film, the wrestler also has a few volatile exchanges with Yu captured on film. While Page was off on business trips, it’s up to the filmmaker — who studied economics at Cornell University and has no training in counselling — to keep an occasionally intoxicated Roberts in check.
“Some people would say ‘weren’t you afraid he was going to beat you up?'” says Yu. “Well, he’s really kind of harmless. He’s not going to get physical, even though he gets emotional. I’m younger than him and he was out of shape. So it’s not like I was worried. But it was tough being in those situations where there are these larger-than-life people and we’re trying to keep them under control and on the right path.”
What initially seems like an infomercial for DDP yoga quickly transforms into something much more important. Roberts and Hall were not some bottom card wrestlers they were main events that destroyed their personal lives as well as their bodies. To see two people that I have seen for so long redeem themselves, was far more moving than I imagined. Anyone who has dealt with people that are addicts or alcoholics will instantly relate to Roberts behavior.
All that is well and good and it makes for a fantastic film that I can’t recommend highly enough. But beyond all that, what I’ve taken away from the experience is looking more closely at the example of Dallas Page. While many of us have friends who are hurting and in need, it’s far too easy to simply say a kind word and never take any action. That wasn’t good enough for DDP. He couldn’t sit idly by and let his friends suffer the same fate as so many others had done in their industry. He laid down his own life both socially, financially, and professionally to save his friends. That’s the kind of guy I want to be.
While wrestling has been known for cheesy, clichéd promos and child-motivating monologues, the encouragement that Dallas gives to these fallen heroes is heartfelt and sincere. His constant efforts to help them right themselves magnify his overwhelmingly positive attitude, which is one of the true motivating factors that keeps the fight alive between the wrestlers and their addictions. The self-belief that Dallas helps them find along the way is very genuine. Dallas’s treatment of Jake and Scott is akin to a loving brother, and ultimately, it is the power of family that will have the potential to bring about the biggest change in these legends.
This is a film that transcends wrestling, and can be universally appreciated for the important themes that it represents – hope, persistence, friendship, love and family.
This method also helps to establish Resurrection as more than just a movie about a wrestler. It strips away the mythos of the performer and puts a spotlight on the man. Roberts has an unflinching honesty about his life, he acknowledges the frailty of his situation but dives headfirst into the gruelling process of simply trying to live happily after years of hardship. Witnessing his journey creates a strong bond between him and the audience, and it’s that bond that stays with you after the credits roll.
“The Resurrection of Jake the Snake” is not a story about wrestling, although the footage used from years gone by is quite extraordinary. This is a story about a wrestler. It’s a story about a man who has lost his way and with the help of long-lost friends, he picks himself back up. This is a human story with heart and soul. It’s everyone’s story,
Filmmaker Steve Yu, who is also one of Roberts’ supporters in the film, saw a golden opportunity to shoot a doc. Yu’s approach feels honest, not preachy, and he fills in gaps between footage with his own narration.
He also films Roberts reconnecting with his kids and setting a goal, mentioned throughout the film, to get into the WWE Royal Rumble (a wrestling match that often brings nostalgic characters back to the ring). And as Roberts’ health progresses, another wrestler in dire need of cleaning up his life is brought into the picture: Scott Hall.
The scene with Roberts and Page convincing Hall to join them at the crib isn’t easily forgotten. The result is three wrestlers, who swear like sailors, sharing digs to get healthy.
If you’re a wrestling fan, the doc also features “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, Chris Jericho and more. But you won’t need to know anything about pro wrestling to be moved to tears.
That’s what the film is at its very best. Narratively, the film is almost cartoonishly moving. A travelogue through the ebbs and flows of an addicts recovery, save for the few discussions about the importance of Roberts realizing the support he has of his fans, this is a documentary about a fallen man and a recovering addict. Not a mythic pro-wrestler or an iconic pop culture figure. Potent in its discussion of addiction and the trappings one may fall into when dealing with an addiction, Yu’s film is breathlessly heart felt and one of the more humane portraits of this type of illness this writer has ever seen. However, it’s also something a bit more. A touchstone look at how one must properly go about supporting an addict in their recovery, this is a piece of non-fiction cinema that absolutely cannot be missed.
Featuring input and insight from Stone Cold Steve Austin, Chris Jericho, Ted Dibiase, Adam Copeland (aka Edge), Gene Okerlund, Jim Duggan (aka Hacksaw Jim Duggan), Jim Ross, and Jerry Mires (aka J-Rocc), as well as an astonishing appearance by an almost unrecognizable Scott Hall (aka Razor Ramon), who enters the DDP Yoga program after Jake, and arguably in even worse shape, "The Resurrection Of Jake The Snake" is a look at the darker side of post-wrestling life. What happens when the spotlight gets turned off, the adrenaline wears off, and these television heroes are left to fight the personal problems they put aside, is often not documented. As Jake says over and over, "My history is not my destiny," and by the end of the film you believe he's got a helluva chance to live up to that motto. [B]
The film is definitely a must-see, and not just for wrestling fans. Roberts' story is one that everyone can relate too, and it shows that no matter how hard you fall, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And the viewers finally get to see Roberts re-united with his children 16 years after Beyond The Mat hit the screens.
Personally, I always appreciated the careers of both Jake Roberts and Scott Hall. They were both captivating in the ring and their impact on the business is well documented. I always found Jake intriguing because he never had the greatest physique, nor was he the biggest guy, but man could he work a match and cut a promo. Jake was able get into the minds of the viewing audience and play with their emotions, better than possibly any wrestler before or since. Meanwhile, I remember first liking Scott Hall in the AWA when he was tag team champions with Curt Hennig. And while I wasn’t overly crazy of the Razor Ramon character, I loved his work with the original NWO trio. The roller coaster rides of their lives was always heartbreaking for me to hear as it just gave more time for people with vicious agendas to show them on embarrassing YouTube videos at times when they were most vulnerable. Seeing this movie and getting to see them both getting another chance at life was something that I found moving on more than one occasion while watching this film.