Posted on 21 Apr 2014
5 min read
Today it seems like every man and his dog has got a Netflix account.
Or at least a month’s free trial that you’ve managed to drag out for over a year by continually switching email addresses.
The only problem is that usually you have to wade through an ocean of dross before you find anything worth watching.
This irritation is usually compounded by the fact that your girlfriend’s taste in romcoms and films about cats has confused the ‘recommended viewing’ algorithm into thinking you’re a bit of a bender.
So, to save you from the aggro of finding something worth watching, here’s our pick of the best bodybuilding flicks to check out next time you’ve exhausted all other avenues of entertainment on rest day (biscuits, lube, etc).
It follows the build up to the 1975 Mr Olympia and all the guys from the Golden Age are here: Arnold, Mike Katz, Lou Ferrigno, Franco Columbu.
The star of the show, of course, is Arnold, and he’s charismatic, brash, funny, determined, charming, and a bit of a twat in places.
Although a great deal of Pumping Iron is clearly staged, the film still provides a fascinating insight into the day-to-day life of a professional bodybuilder.
It’s also fascinating to see Arnold in full flow in the days before superstardom beckoned.
Pumping Iron is also extremely entertaining and endlessly quotable.
Who could forget this classic line, which is made all the more sinister with Arnie’s Austrian accent:
I am like, uh, getting the feeling of coming in a gym, I’m getting the feeling of coming at home, I’m getting the feeling of coming backstage when I pump up, when I pose in front of 5,000 people, I get the same feeling, so I am coming day and night.
Make sure you check out the Pumping Iron outtakes and extras (most of them are floating around on YouTube), as there’s some great bonus footage, including Arnold hanging out with his idol and mentor Reg Park and an insightful ‘making of’ featurette.
It is a film chiefly about striving to be the best, no matter what cost, and it’s full of bloated egos, hostility, tales of sacrifice, and of course a whole load of muscle.
It also covers training, steroids, injury, and, more intriguingly, Kai Greene’s paintings and Dennis Wolf’s film auditions (the latter is hilarious).
A highlight is the hostility between current kingpin Phil Heath and the aforementioned Greene, the grapefruit-shagging, platitude-spouting fan favourite.
Such was their mutual rancor at the time of filming that the two refused to speak to one another.
Each film follows the Olympia athletes as they battle it out for the coveted Sandow trophy.
There’s so many hours of footage available on these discs it’s unreal.
I highly doubt there is anyone out there who has watched it all – and if there is, then you have my utmost respect (you don’t).
In reality, no-one needs to see this much of anything, not even Megan Fox gargling some dude’s balls.
A key component of this shift was The Weider Principles for building muscle, which is the topic covered in these DVDs.
However, most of the information included here is pretty superficial, very repetitive, and occasionally outdated.
Having said that, if you’re a bodybuilding aficionado that harbours nostalgia for the ‘Arnie Age’, this is definitely worth watching purely for the entertainment value alone.
The footage is bursting at the seems with spandex, mullets, and a soundtrack that wouldn’t be out of a place in a low-quality continental porn flick (not knocking them, they’re the best).
Follow Jay relaxing at home, Jay in the kitchen, Jay in the gym, Jay backstage at the Olympia, Jay as he goes on his first cottaging expedition (apparently this didn’t make it past editing).
This DVD provides a great insight into the lifestyle of someone at the summit of their sport.
His dedication is palpable and there is a lot of great info here, however it is a little dull in places.
I’m not having a go – moreover it’s a testament to how seriously he takes his sport.
But, as such, this is strictly one for the super fan.
Answer: Almost certainly.
The training footage in Unchained Raw Reality film is so intense that I woke up the next morning with acute DOMS.
There isn’t much chatter or insight into anything other than completely crushing it in the gym.
And in places it’s so over-the-top it’s hard to take seriously.
Branch Warren crashes around the gym like a brain-damaged Tasmanian Devil, tossing weights around, screaming obscenities, eating plastic protein bars, and lifting with the worst form in professional bodybuilding.
Worth watching for the entertainment value if nothing else.
It includes some great footage of Big Ron – without doubt one of the best bodybuilders of all time – training and discussing his career.
The King provides some interesting exercise advice and some great insights, and the DVD as a whole is very informative, but it’s marred somewhat by the Australian interviewer who’s probably more annoying than unsolicited emails, Mick Hucknall and the Middle East combined.
And while I love anything with Ronnie in it (I’d even start watching Downton Abbey if they gave him a role), it’s hard to ignore the fact that this film looks like it was edited by a two year old monkey on a farm.
So, there we have it, our pick of the best (and in some cases I use that word loosely) bodybuilding flicks on Netflix.
Have you seen any of these films?
Are there any others that we’ve missed off the list?
Hit us up with a comment below!