Metascore
65

Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jan 5, 2012
    88
    With Knuckle, Palmer offers a thorough -- and extraordinarily compelling -- portrait of the Travellers.
  2. Reviewed by: David Parkinson
    Nov 27, 2011
    80
    Chock full of larger-than-life characters, it's an enthralling insight into a raw, bloodied world.
  3. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Dec 7, 2011
    78
    Knuckle is the real deal, with the strapping, brutally human Traveller clans butting heads with not only one another but with the very future of their subculture's existence.
  4. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Dec 12, 2011
    75
    With the exception of a few candid moments featuring James at home, Knuckle isn't particularly well-made, but there's an inherently fascinating quality to the material.
  5. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Dec 9, 2011
    75
    Thick-necked, booze-loving and angry men beat each other with their naked fists: so far, so Irish. But the feuding clans in the documentary Knuckle actually think their habits of antagonizing one another can be fixed by just one more problem-solving brawl.
  6. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Dec 8, 2011
    70
    The film is very much like a home movie in trying to tell its story of families and feuds complete with the bad lighting, bad camera angles and meandering observations. Though you will wish for more polish and insight, its unruly action is hard to resist.
  7. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Dec 7, 2011
    70
    Palmer's grainy, handheld camerawork won't win any aesthetic prizes, but it's in tune with his subject.
  8. Reviewed by: Stephen Farber
    Nov 27, 2011
    70
    Palmer keeps his focus tightly on the families, which makes the movie admirably unpretentious but also incomplete. Nevertheless, the picture has a vibrant central character in James McDonagh, the leading fighter in the clan who begins to question the rites of violence.
  9. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Nov 27, 2011
    70
    As anthropology lessons go, Knuckle is strong stuff, and it's easy to accept Palmer's conclusion that the problem he's showing us may well have no solution.
  10. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Dec 7, 2011
    67
    It's an involving but frustrating peek into a private culture involved in a self-defeating cycle of violence and mythologizing.
  11. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Dec 9, 2011
    60
    While it's frustrating that Mr. Palmer doesn't dig deep into the complexities of the fights, one of the movie's strengths is the honesty with which he confesses his doubts about them.
  12. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Dec 9, 2011
    60
    For all their brutality, the fights are so seductive and exciting that their consequences - the physical and mental toll exacted from the men and their families - sometimes fail to register.
  13. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Dec 8, 2011
    60
    While the film becomes slightly redundant, the anger and strife its characters cannot overcome is awful, poetic and, frankly, astonishing.
  14. Reviewed by: Bill Weber
    Dec 7, 2011
    50
    A documentary of bareknuckle fights among feuding Irish Traveller clans can't give the participants' self-perpetuating, dead-end rivalry the scope of tragedy.
  15. Reviewed by: David Fear
    Dec 7, 2011
    40
    Palmer's acknowledgement of his own involvement in, and thrill at watching, these events speaks volumes, but simply showing generations of pasty, fat men pounding each other to a pulp shouldn't be mistaken for an in-depth exploration of Gaelic machismo.
User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 4 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Feb 25, 2012
    8
    Really enjoyed this doc...a good look into the life of a male traveller, makes you wonder why ppl live the way they do!!.
    you wudnt wanna mess
    with any of the hard cases either!! Full Review »