Like LEGENDARY, this is another of the WWE’s attempts to make something besides action movies. The title character is Walter Krunk, the massive handyman at a Memphis orphanage who grew up there, was never adopted, and never left. A fire damages the orphanage, which is threatened with being shut down unless the nuns who run the place can come up with the money for the repairs, and who should come along but a boxing trainer who’s looking for a new fighter to compete in a mixed martial arts championship. The trainer has to find somebody in a hurry because he’s in debt to a vicious bookie who’s also involved with the MMA tournament.
Well, you all know where this is going, of course. The nuns and the trainer team up to turn the huge but good-natured Walter into a fighter. Action, romance, humor, and assorted hijinks ensue. You don’t expect a movie like this to break any new ground when it comes to the plot, and KNUCKLEHEAD doesn’t. You have to judge it by how well the people who are involved do what they do, and on that score, KNUCKLEHEAD turns out to be fairly entertaining.
The cast is a good one. Dennis Farina is the bad guy, Wendie Mallick is the nun in charge of the orphanage, Melora Hardin is the former stripper who works at the orphanage. She’s not a nun, so she can serve as the romantic interest for the trainer, played by Mark Feuerstein. The fine character actor Will Patton shows up in a supporting role as the trainer’s father. Not surprisingly, though, Paul Wight Jr., who wrestles under the name The Big Show (that’s how he’s billed here, too) dominates the movie as Walter, and not just because of his size. He turns in an excellent performance. The “gentle giant” role is sort of a stereotype, but Wight handles it very well.
Some of the humor is pretty crude for a movie that seems to be trying to be “family friendly”, but that’s the film’s biggest drawback. KNUCKLEHEAD isn’t a great movie, but its heart is in the right place and I enjoyed watching it.