Entering the documentary world of pumping iron, director Vlad Yudin brings us GENERATION IRON. Intended as a “remake” or update of the 1977 documentary Pumping Iron which not only helped catapult Arnold Schwarzenegger into the spotlight, but gave the world some insight into the world of bodybuilding, GENERATION IRON takes us on a journey into the history of Mr. Olympia (including interviews and cameos by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lou Ferrigno and Mike Katz), bringing us up to the 2012 Mr. Olympia championships. Sculpting everything into focus as he follows the seven hottest contenders vying for the 2012 world title, culminating in a flex-filled, muscle-bound display in Las Vegas, Yudin moves us through this world and its inhabitants with the same precision and jaw-dropping drama as a perfectly cut deltoid.
Travelling around the globe and across the United States, we meet up close and personal during the final quarter leading up to the 2012 championships, the 2011 Mr. Olympia and defending champ Phil Heath; positioning Heath in a “Rocky Balboa vs Clubber Lang” Rocky III storyline, Brooklynite underdog Kai Greene flexes his artistic muscle; Texas rancher and elder statesman Branch Warren shows he’s still got some game; OCDC better-training-through-science Ben Pulaski proves an egomaniacal annoyance; Japanese emigre Hidetada Yamagishi is an odd lot in the mix; the oh-so-charming and charismatic German Dennis Wolf (savvy businessman who is poised to follow in Schwarzenegger’s footsteps) dazzles with dimples, warmth and intelligence; and the Curacao-born, female-trained, Roelly Winklaar who proves to be the one you want to see fail – in spades.
Examining the private lives of each man, as well as psychological philosophies and training methods, Yudin flexes his own directorial muscles as he gets these top competitors to open up with some honest emotions while others are nothing more than examples of inflated egos that rival the size of their biceps, poor sportsmanship and manipulators of their own stories and screen appearances. Telling is the commentary proffered by several competitors and trainers on steroid/HGH use as well as muscle/weight gain dietary supplements.
Most appreciative is that Yudin never allows the camera to objectify the men or their muscles, but merely observe. Narrated by Mickey Rourke, his tonal inflections and timbre add adds to the gravitas of the competition as well as making the thrill of victory and agony of defeat a fully sensory experience. Cleanly lensed, succinctly edited, GENERATION IRON is the bodybuilding documentary for this generation.
Directed by Vlad Yudin