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11/8/1998 5:21:04 PM

BAGPIPE REVIEW
The film without a doubt is the most candid look into the life of a
pro-wreslter ever presented to a mainstream audience,and is a can't-
miss for all wrestling fans.

Reported by: Citro on November 05, 1998

Reprinted from The Bagpipe Report:

Through some generous friends I was able to acquire an advanced
copy of "Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows" the upcoming A&E;
movie special based around the events of November 9, 1997.
Overall the film is without a doubt a must see for wrestling
fans, whether you are a fan of Bret Hart or not.As a fan you'll
get a unique look into life in the Hart family, and if you're
not a fan,there's alot of inside looks at how match endings are
determined, as well as unusual glimpses of wrestlers out of
character.

The film attempts to document the events that took place from late
1996 right up through the night of Survivor Series. It begins with
an in-depth look into Bret's family and upbringing, concentrating
on Bret's father, the legendary Stu Hart. The scenes of the family
together around the table are heartwarming, and go along way to
hammer home the closeness of the Hart family. In one area of the
film where I really think it does take a turn for the worse, they
concentrate a little too much on the history of Stu Hart, briefly
chronicling his career, and his decision to sell Stampede to Vince
McMahon. The segment tries to accomplish too much in too little
time on a subject that was a little too far off the topic of the
film. Other than a glaring omission later, it is the only weak
point of the film.

The filmmakers then briefly detail Bret's early career in Stampede
and then his entrance into the WWF. They don't take much time with
his tag team career or his two IC title reigns, but seem to step
ahead to Wrestlemania X, and Bret's second world title win,
detailing how Bret did not know the other babyfaces on the card
were going to lift him up on their shoulders. In the voice over
Bret states how he felt that that was the high point of his
relationship with Vince.

The film moves forward to Bret's sabbatical during the summer of
1996, during which WCW originally made their offer to jump ship.
The filmmakers portray Bret as he mulls over his decision to
leave the WWF for more money in WCW. They show his "return"
interview from Raw, where he states that he'll be with the WWF
"forever", as Vince McMahon wipes his brow,look of relief firmly
etched into his face.

The film then begins to illustrate Bret's distaste for the direction
the WWF was headed. They briefly touch on Shawn Michaels
being Bret's main target and example of what he doesn't like about
the WWF's new direction, but don't really go much further. Which is
where the glaring omission I mentioned earlier comes in.

They skip forward to Summerslam 97, completely ignoring the infamous
backstage brawl between Michaels and Hart, and don't touch at all on
the legitimate,personal feud the two had going during the year. It's
been documented that the reason McMahon gives for asking Bret to
leave comes from wanting to unload the financial burden of Bret's
contract, but some creedence has to be given to the fact that the
WWF's two biggest names were involved in a personal feud that was
raging out of control, without a doubt making it near impossible for
McMahon to keep control of his company. So at least in my opinion,
the Hart/Michaels fued was extremely relevant t o the events that
transpire later, both in reality and as documented on tape, and
should not have been omitted. Time to cover these events could have
easily been made by shortening the segment on Stu Hart.

According to the film, Bret is notified 2 months prior to Survivor
Series that McMahon wants out of the 20 year deal offered to him just
one year previous. They illustrate Bret again mulling over a career
decision, although this time there really is no decision, either way
he's leaving the WWF. Realistically, his only choices were WCW or
retirement. They go a long way to demonstrate how catastrophic Bret
felt this was, cementing the feeling with Bret's comment "I pushed
send, and in a few seconds, my 14 year career with WWF was over."

It would be impossible to say for sure if he's correct, but Bret
reveals that he beleived it was Vince himself that leaked the
information to the internet/hotlines that Bret was leaving for WCW.
They show fans at Detroit house show just tearing into Bret during
his match about "selling out." It's a scary moment that reveals
just how quickly any of us are so apt to beleive whatever we read.

Timeframes begin to get muddled as they begin to describe the events
of Survivor Series, they show Bret and the rest of the Hart Foundation
in a limo, apparently discussing the latest things Vince and Michaels
have had to say about the upcoming Survivor Series main event. They
play a tape of the conversation Bret has with Vince just hours before
Survivor Series takes place. On the tape, Vince clearly agrees to a
run-in ending, resulting in a DQ, then having Bret surrender the title
the next night on Raw.

They show the ringing of the bell from several angles, and we get to
see Bret's full reaction to what had transpired, as he smashes all the
broadcast equipment. Backstage, the camera is there as Bret changes
and fellow wrestlers are there to support him, and amazingly, Shawn
and Bret just happen to be in the same dressing room together, Shawn
swears up and down that he had nothing to do with it. They show Vince
and his entourage stroll up to the dressing room, but the camera cuts,
and does not capture the scuffle between Hart and McMahon.

I had heard that viewing this film would put an end to any thoughts
that the whole thing was a work. I'd have to disagree, if anything
it opens up even more possibilities of it being a work. The most
important question it brings up is "where did the fillmaker get all
the footage and audio"? The film is presented very pro-Bret, and
did not look to have any involvement from the WWF at all,or did it?
Where did all the backstage footage come from? What about all the
instances where Bret is having conversations that would only be
audible if Bret was wearing a mic? Some scenes are recreations, but
some are quite obviously actual time footage. So where did they get
it, since the film is somewhat anti-McMahon, why would the WWF
consent for the filmmaker to use the footage? Some of the places
and times a camera is present are just too convenient, particularly
following the main event debacle,as the camera documents everyone's
reactions so well you'd think they planned to use it on Raw the
next night.

The film without a doubt is the most candid look into the life of a
pro-wreslter ever presented to a mainstream audience,and is a can't-
miss for all wrestling fans. Whether you're a fan of Bret or not,
most will find this a fascinating look behind the curtain of pro-
wrestling.

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