Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows (TV Movie 1998) - Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows (TV Movie 1998) - User Reviews - IMDb
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The Real World of Pro Wrestling
Sargebri14 February 2004
This is probably the best documentary on the world of professional wrestling. It is a no nonsense look at how much wrestling has changed since the its beginnings to what it is now. You get to look behind the characters that the wrestlers create and see how the business treats them as nothing more than commodities after their usefulness is over. Vince McMahon is pretty much shown to be not much different than his character on Raw or Smackdown. In fact, he is shown to be a backstabbing lowlife who lets his personal pride get in the way of his friendship with his company's brightest star. This is one documentary that does open some eyes.
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10/10
"The best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be"
Tito-821 December 1998
This may very well be the best documentary that I have ever seen. I first saw the film a month ago, and after seeing it again, I am more convinced than ever that it is a must-see; not only for wrestling fans, but fans of film, period. To be sure, you'll probably get more out of this movie if you are familiar with Bret Hart, or the WWF, or the now infamous Montreal double-cross, but the filmmakers succeeded in making this an enjoyable experience for viewers whether they watch wrestling or not. This film gave me a greater appreciation for wrestling, increased my already high regard for documentaries, and cemented me as a life-long fan of the Hitman. I can only hope that potential viewers of this film can remove any pre-conceived notions that they might have about wrestling, for this is truly a film that deserves to be seen.
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Screwed on film
Ricky_Roma__18 March 2007
There's quite an amusing bit in Wrestling With Shadows where a man on a TV panel show earnestly likens Bret Hart to Hamlet – he says both are good men stuck in immoral worlds. Only in Canada (and possibly Mexico) could such a discussion be televised and it not be part of a sketch show. After all, as Bret himself points out, for a brief time he was the most famous Canadian in the world.

But although I find it amazing that a programme could use wrestling as a means in which to discuss morals, and although I'm even more amazed that such a show could find its way on the airways, the documentary that features it is superb. Here you have a film that, like the excellent Beyond the Mat, lifts the veil on wrestling and shows the world how the whole crazy enterprise works. It most certainly isn't Shakespeare (and Bret Hart isn't Hamlet), but the story that unfolds is riveting.

As in Beyond the Mat, one of the main themes in this film is the way wrestling blurs lines that are drawn between the real and the unreal. Yes we all know the matches are predetermined and that punches are pulled, but that's beside the point. The reality is in the reactions generated by fans. The reality is the sacrifices performers have to make to succeed in the business – many forsake normal family lives. The reality is in the cruelty of the profession – no pensions and no job security. So although the matches are planned in advance, there are careers and lives on the line.

What the film captures wonderfully is Hart's internal conflict. He wants to be a hero, but people are starting to boo him, and he wants to stay loyal to Vince McMahon (who's almost like a second father), but he has a big money offer from WCW. There are lots of things going on, almost all of them out of his control. And while that may seem crazy, wrestling being almost entirely about control and manipulation of people's emotions, it further illustrates how complicated the business is – while he's worshipped like a god in Canada and across the world (the reaction in India is hardly phoney), he's vilified in America as bland and unfashionable; people want something different.

And that's probably Bret Hart's problem. As great an athlete as he was, he found it hard to adapt to the new attitude that wrestling acquired in the late 90s. He was too emotionally invested in being a hero. If anything, he cared too much about the fans. He probably would have adapted better if he had less scruples. But that's what also makes Hart a wonderful subject for this documentary. He never sells out and he never breaks his word – even in such a scuzzy business as wrestling, he maintains his dignity. He's also at odds with his new position within the company as the number one heel – he doesn't like insulting the fans. But such is Hart's professionalism that he does and does it exceedingly well. Indeed, the whole period of wrestling that the film documents was the most exciting I can remember. Wrestling since has been a pale shadow of what it was back then.

Despite my opinion, though, Hart doesn't like the new direction and openly criticises it. And this is probably what leads to his downfall. His determination to be honest at all times alienates Vince McMahon and may well have inspired the infamous Montreal screw job.

And the section of the film that deals with the events in Montreal make for fascinating viewing. First of all you have the way Bret Hart's wife emotionally says goodbye to what she thinks are her friends. Then you have Blade (Bret's son) sulking in the corner because he'll never see a lot of these people again. And after that you have Bret telling his wife that Earl Hebner, the referee, is straight (he swore on his kids that nothing would happen). It all adds up to betrayal that is like having your family stab you in the back – being the sort of person he is, you can more than understand why Hart is so devastated. However, you can also kind of see McMahon's point of view. He was fighting a bitter fight with WCW and one of his main (expensive) stars had been openly criticising his direction; McMahon wanted to do the best he could to taint the goods Ted Turner had paid handsomely for. But even though from a cold, objective business point of view, I can understand why Vince did it, he does fully deserve the punch in the face that Hart deals out to him. The whole situation could and should have been handled better.

Aside from this, you also have a film about a man and his relationship with his father, and the one here is unique to say the least. One of the funniest sections in the film is when the Hart's recount the way Stu Hart would 'stretch out' aspiring wrestlers. In one instance you can even hear a kid screaming his head off as Stu slaps him, saying 'Have some discipline'. It's here that you understand how and why Bret became the man he is. He was afraid of his father but respected him, too. And because of the strict sense of right and wrong that was fostered in him, he found it hard to accept the shades of grey that crept into wrestling.

But while, in a sense, this moral rigidity hampers Bret's career, it also protects him. Many wrestlers, when they retire, go off the rails, but with Bret (despite everything that's happened since the film) you feel he'll be okay. At least, you hope that will be the case.
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8/10
Great movie! Wrestling fans are sure to like.
Movieguy-2123 December 1998
I have been a Bret Hart fan for as long as I can remember and when I heard of his betrayal by the WWF I was mad. This film portrays events leading up to and a bit after the Montreal incident. I think it is a really good film. I especially liked the behind the scenes aspect of the WWF.
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10/10
Shakespeare meets Pro Wrestling
Monellifilms9 September 2008
Good guys. Bad guys. Betrayal. Tragedy. Men in tights.

Hit-man Hart: Wrestling With Shadows is a documentary focusing on the legendary Bret "Hitman" Hart and his last year with the WWE (1997). The veil of professional wrestling is removed and we get a behind the scenes glimpse of what it was like to be a wrestler in the WWE. What makes this documentary great is that it is about how "fake" wrestling is, while showing us how "real" it can be.

Bret Hart narrates, as well as leads us through, his hectic life as WWE champion. The film's main narrative is his battle with WWE owner, Vince McMahon. Their relationship drives most of the documentary and ultimately becomes that of a Shakespearian tragedy. Once great friends and co-workers, these two men eventually clash over several things which leads to Bret considering a departure from the WWE. What Vince McMahon does to Bret Hart at the end is utterly heartbreaking (no pun intended).

The camera crew did a superb job of capturing the raw moments backstage and in Bret's own home. Characters in the film act as if there is no camera around most of the time. Director Paul Jay is virtually non-existent in this documentary. He lets Bret take center stage. The point of view is obviously from Bret's corner, but the filmmakers lay everything out like a crime scene investigation and allow the viewer to form their own opinion as to the film's main ethical dilemma (Bret and McMahon's personal decisions at the end). Bret Hart speaks candidly about his decisions and his belief in them, and we see clips of Vince McMahon sharing his point of view as well.

This film does not require you to be a fan of professional wrestling, but it would not hurt either. Bret explains the intricacies of wrestling and how things work in a very simplistic manner which will make anyone knowledgeable in the world of wrestling and able to enjoy this classic morality tale.

Bret Hart comes off as extremely likable and noble. I find it hard to believe anyone not admiring his honesty, courage, and belief in himself. He believes in heroes, and doing what is right. He has loyalty and that loyalty is betrayed. This ultimately ends up becoming what the movie is about. Is Bret Hart a hero? Is Vince McMahon a villain? Is there right and wrong?

This documentary is a must see, and not just for wrestling fans.
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8/10
Wrestling with Shadows is a Grand Slam. A must-watch.
ironhorse_iv7 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Filmed at the peak of the Monday night ratings war, the movie takes an inside look at the final year of Bret Hart's career with the wrestling promotion, The World Wrestling Federation, (now World Wrestling Entertainment). Without spoiling the movie, too much, this documentary directed by Paul Jay not only shows an insight into wrestling's biggest star at the time, but also the wrestling business itself and the most controversial non scripted legit incident coined simply as 'the Montreal Screw Job' at the 1997's 'Survivor Series' PPV. While, today, most wrestlers are more open about talking the inside secrets about the business; at the time, the professional wrestling organizations worked to maintain the illusion of story lines and characters, in a moral code matter called 'kayfabe'. Because of this, any performer that broke character, would reach far-reaching ramifications. So, this beg the question, how did, director Jay and his crew, was given unprecedented access toward, this secretly world. Well, it's because the owner of the WWF, Vince McMahon was fighting against an uphill battle against his competitor at the time, World Championship Wrestling, which already raid some of his company's best talents. He couldn't lose, anymore top stars, jumping ship in 1996, so he mostly agree to his stars demands, when negotiated new contracts. One of those, demands, was for filmmaker, Jay to follow Hart, and his family, around WWF events, because Bret wanted a documentary highlight the legendary of Hart Wrestling Family for their native Calgary fans. Because of this, it was the first time, in forever, outside cameras were allow to film backstage since the mid-1980s. However, what Jay and Hart didn't know at the time, is how bad, WWF's financial were, at the time, and how McMahon couldn't live up to what Hart was demanding from his contract. It was here, where the movie change its direction and structure from showing the achievements of the Hart Family, to them, focusing on the backstage politics of Hart. Accounting to the film's extras, Hart mentions that filming had actually concluded prior to 1997's 'Survivor Series' and Bret had suggested to Jay that he may wish to bring the crew to the event, as to document his final match with the WWF. Surprising, for both of them, this added footage became the key ingredient, needed for this film. Without that dramatic climax, I really doubt, the film would had work. However, there were a few criticism, over the rights of that footage. Since, filming rights has ended, before that PPV. McMahon felt entitled for that footage, as he has claim Jay, broke their contract. He sued him, as a result. The director went on to state that WCW has contacted him, not only to offered to pay for the lawsuit, but also offered a PPV deal for the film and long term distribution on the Turner network. Once McMahon became aware of this, Vince back down, and allow Jay to use stock footage, and the use of the names and likeness of the other wrestlers featured in the film. Yet, McMahon didn't go all, quietly, as he used some of his reputation to kill some of the distribution. Having face, a backlash, with Jay, McMahon try to couther the negative prints, by allowing another documentary to be made, backstage, 1999's 'Beyond the Mat'. However, that film also made the WWF look bad. Because of that, most wrestling documentaries under the WWF banner, has been produced by WWF/E Home Video since then. While it's easy to view the film and simply think of Bret as the good guy and Vince as the bad guy; I think you would had to understand, a deeper sense of Vince & Bret's perspective. Both men are very prideful, very difficult to work with, and equally as stubborn. You see this, in a way, how Hart outright lies to the camera, about being able to work with anybody and not injuring anybody on purpose, despite having problems, with previous wrestlers like Bad News Brown, Jerry Lawler, Ric Flair and Dino Bravo in the past that resulted in real-life injuries. Then, there is the claim that he never slept with anybody, during his first marriage, which according to his later book, that he indeed cheated on his then-wife, Julie. Kinda hypocritical, for a man that claims that the "WWF Attitude" marketing brand which relies on an emphasis on sex, extreme violence, and the replacing of heroic wrestling characters with disaffected anti-heroes, was the worst thing to happen to pro-wrestling. Hart might be the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be! Yet, he's kinda a jerk. This documentary kinda shows that. Yes, I'm a huge fan of the man's work, but I got a problem, on how little, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, & Davey Boy Smith are given to talk, seeing how the documentary was originally about them. Yes, I like the rare look at Hart's family life, but it does focus on Hart's business problems a little too much that it became somewhat annoying, even if it made Hart, a bigger hero, than he was, without it. For Vince, this movie was the best thing to happen to him, as he was indeed able to use the real-life heat, from the screw-job to usher a great storyline with him as an on screen villain. While, most people generally believed that Bret Hart was indeed screw-over, still, there are others that felt that this was truly a work of storytelling fiction and Hart was in on it. Nevertheless, based on this documentary, there is just way too many inconsistent to believe that was the case. Overall: Vince and Bret would ultimately buried the hatchet in 2002 and on aired in 2010, but this documentary would always be a great time capsule essential documentary for both wrestling and non-wrestling fans alike. A tragic betrayal film at its best.
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10/10
A wrestling fan's (past or present) dream!
kessler30002 February 2002
Whether you love or loath Vincent K McMahon, there is no denying that he is a world class promoter. Whether you love or loath Bret Hart, there is no denying that he is a world class wrestler. That is why this is such a brilliant documentary. Bret Hart was THE top guy in the WWF in the mid-'90s. Vince was the man behind the character. The on-screen commentator was the behind-the-scenes owner/promoter. He signed Bret Hart up to an unprecedented 20 year contract in 1996 to stop Hart from joining the WWF's rival WCW. This documentary follows Bret around for one year. This one year is one of the most interesting in WWF history. It just so happens that the conclusion to this year contained THE most controversial night in recent wrestling history. Bret Hart was on his way to WCW but had a few weeks remaining on his WWF contract. The problem was that he was still the WWF Champion and this resulted in disputes and arguments from both sides as to how this problem would be resolved. This documentary crew was given an all access pass to all WWF events for the year that is covered. They go into the locker room and reveal all of the behind-the-scenes discussions and debates and the final concluding part to the most controversial night in recent wrestling memory.

Watch this tape if you have even the smallest amount of interest in wrestling. See how the "evil boss" character of Vince McMahon was created on this infamous night in November '97 in Montreal and how Bret Hart finished his 14 year WWF career.
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Deep Dark Secrets
Angel-5431 December 1998
As a fan of WWF wrestling I was interested when I heard there would be a documentary on Bret "The Hitman" Hart. Growing up I watched wrestling with my older brother and father and remember Bret wrestling, to me it was very real. I took a break and just recently got back into watching it about a year ago. So when I heard about the documentary, I was very interested..........Wow was I in for a surprise!! I was amazed to see things from the inside out rather than the outside in. I learned things that I had never known before. I knew it was planned out for the most part, but I never realized the extent of it. I read through pervious comments and I was shocked......people said it was funny and exciting to see the under-belly of wrestling, but I, on the other hand, was moved almost to tears. I was upset to learn about the backstage scenes that go on outside of the ring. The Montreal incident was appalling and worst of all, every one Bret had put his faith into "screwed" him royally. Today wrestling is very different, there are women taking their clothes off and everything revolves around sex. We need to take it back to when it was a sport, not a soap opera. Don't get me wrong, I love WWF, but when I see what it did to Bret and his family, I feel horrible....The WWF betrayed his trust and his ability and destroyed the audience's faith in him..........Bret is a true champion!! This documentary gave me a persepective I had never known before...A must see for everyone who thinks wrestling is fake and no one gets hurt....people do get hurt, in more ways than one.
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8/10
This documentary is a must see
MichaelMovieLoft24 February 1999
Wrestling with Shadows opens a wrestling fan's eyes to the dark side of wrestling. You will see a side that you thought never existed. This documentary will show you what goes on behind the scenes and show you what kind of people work in "the circus". After seeing this, I see that Bret Hart is one of the few honest men left in wrestling. You will see Bret is just a man trying to make a living in the world of wrestling. One day, the world of wrestling changed around him. The sport he loved as a child and grew up in has changed around him. It's almost sad and disgusting. This documentary just goes to show that, sadly, there is no more room left for honest wrestlers like Bret Hart. Everyone is looking for the gimmick. Somehow, Bret doesn't fit in anymore. Even in the WCW. You have to feel for people like Bret and other wrestlers like him. Wrestling is changing for the worse, and the people involved in it are not the superhuman beings one may think they are. They are just people like you and I. Watch this documentary to see the story of one of those people. You will never look at wrestling in the same way again.
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9/10
The End of a Legacy
maddskilzz10 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
As a fan of Bret Hart i was excited to see this documentary. It took awhile for me to see it but, i finally had the chance to watch it. This is definitely a must see for any Bret Hart fan or any wrestling fan in general. The documentary begins one year before the controversial Survivor Series 1997 in Montreal and follows Bret around as he decides whether to jump ship over to WCW or to stay in the WWF as it was named at the time.

The Montreal Screwjob is one of the main focuses of this film. Bret, who had recently signed a 20 year contract was told by Vince Mcmahon to try and get a deal with WCW. Bret who had been with the company for 14 years was about to leave the WWF for WCW, but before he could leave he had to lose the title. Bret not wanting to lose the title in his home country of Canada refused to lose the title to Shawn Michaels. The idea was for the match to end in disqualification and then Bret would forfeit the title the next night on the WWF's flagship show Monday Night RAW. Even with that suggestion Vince was still worried that Bret would show up on WCW's Monday Nitro with the WWF heavyweight title. This is where the ideas of a screw job finish were put into motion.

During the match Shawn Michaels had Bret in his own hold the Sharpshooter. The plan was for Bret Hart to reverse the move and then member's of Bret Hart's Hart Foundation and Hunter Hearst Helmsly of D-X would come in and cause a disqualification. Instead when Michaels put Bret in the Sharpshooter, Earl Hebner who was referring the match and Vince, who had come down to ringside, called for the bell. It was then that Bret knew that he had been screwed. In a show of anger, Bret spit in the face of Vince McMahon and destroyed equipment near the ring. He also spelled the words "WCW" in the air.

The documentary the went on to show footage of Bret asking Michaels if he knew anything about what just happened. Shawn Michaels completely denied knowing about anything. It was soon found out that he was indeed part of it.

Reliving this moment 9 years after it happened seems just as shocking as it did in 1997. Bret Hart went on to wrestle in WCW, but never had the same success that he had in the WWF. Survivor Series 1997 was truly the end of a legacy.
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8/10
A landmark in professional wrestling history
Jtalledo19 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Although "Wrestling with Shadows" began as documentary about the life of World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) wrestler in the mid-1990s, it ended a film about so much more. The timing of the film was odd yet in hindsight historically impeccable - in 1997, the WWF was at a low popularity-wise and losing money and fans to Ted Turner's competing World Championship Wrestling promotion. With Bret Hart being encouraged by Vince McMahon to leave the WWF for the better of both Hart and the WWF, the documentary initially becomes the story about a man in transition.

After the Montreal incident, the documentary switches gears to show Bret Hart as a man in limbo - unsure of how to react to the worst exit he could have possibly made from the WWF and hitting a wall both personally and professionally. Before and after this point in the film, the whole tone of the piece is decidedly somber, showing the gritty inner workings of the eternally running machine of a professional wrestling promotion and the sacrifice a pro wrestler on the road must make for himself and his family. The movie's legacy remains the statement it makes not about Hart himself, but about the rise of the World Wrestling Federation after Hart's departure.

Though Hart's departure was not completely responsible for the WWF's resurgence in popularity in the late 1990s, it did set in motion a chain reaction of events that spurred it. Almost prophetically, little hints of the WWF's rise are interspersed throughout the film. We see Steve Austin, Vince Russo, Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon, all key players in taking the WWF to new heights in popularity after Hart left. At the end of the film, we get the feeling that the events transpired had set into motion something new. As is turns out, those things didn't just happen to Bret Hart, they happened to the entire professional wrestling world.
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Fascinating look at the Hart of pro-wrestling!
andy-22731 August 1999
How far are you willing to go? How deep can you go into the world of pro-wrestling, and the life of pro-wrestler Bret "The Hitman" Hart? This is it! This film will take on a journey closer to the life of Bret Hart, and closer to the life of a pro-wrestler. Wrestling is fake, yes. But what's it like behind the stage, where the stories are created, and the matches are planned? And what transpired during the time in which Vince McMahon planned his betrayal of Bret Hart? You won't see anything quite like this for a long time! "Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows" documents Bret's life from his childhood to his relationship with his father, his family, and his relationship with Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation. It's never boring, and me, being a former pro-wrestling fan, I came to appreciate what tasks the wrestlers had to undertake. I also strongly agree with a lot of what Bret says in the film, that pro-wrestling has become bloodier, raunchier, and more inappropriate for children than anything, simply for the sake of ratings. You come to feel sympathy for Bret, knowing the hardships a pro-wrestling really does have to deal with. It's also tragic to know that soon after this film was made, his brother Owen Hart was killed in a stunt at the WWF. Vince McMahon has indeed, gone too far for the sake of beating Ted Turner's WCW ratings. I highly recommend this film for someone who likes pro-wrestling and wrestler Bret Hart. If you don't like wrestling, this film will make you come to feel respect for the man, and the people involved in the wrestling business
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10/10
No one is bigger then the sport
metalrox_200018 December 2005
When you boil away the melodrama, there was one lessen that everyone and anyone looking to get into the world of professional wrestling needs to know. No one is bigger then the sport. Yes, Bret Hart was one of the best performers ever. It was sad to see what Bret became in his last year with the WWF He became self absorbed, something that was evident in many of the scenes, and sadly, he was losing himself within his gimmick. His idea of going over Shawn Michaels, and vacating the WWF belt the following night would have been a serious blow to the stature of the WWF, and Vince needed to protect his interest, hence the "Montreal Screw job" That would have made the WWF look like a lower league to WCW. Bret's own words in not wanting to put Shawn over in his home country showed me that Vince was right, Bret screwed Bret, or more accurately, The Hit-man screwed Bret Hart. Despite his upbringing, Bret Hartr shows that when it comes to wrestling, he only cared about what made him look good. Even when Bret comments how he hated getting hurt in a match against the late Dino Bravo, mainly because it was a guy he didn't want to lose to. The film is a great documentary about what happens when fame goes to an athlete's head, and the over look everything they have. And also, a sad commentary about a man presented as a hero, but was as selfish as the common man.
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7/10
Great Film!!!
batman_81114 February 2003
This is a documentary but if Hollywood bought this story and made it into a movie they don't have to change a single thing. It is about Bret Hart a man that loved the WWF more then anything . He gave his heart and soul to the WWF for over 14 years. But in 1997 Vince just didn't have the money to keep him in the WWF. So he told Bret that he should jump ship to the WCW ( World Championship Wrestling) and he wanted to get out of there 20 year contract. Bret told Vince if he had to he will join the WCW but his heart is in the WWF. But when he singed with the WCW Bret was the WWF world champion. And he didn't want to lose the title in his home Country Canada. So he asked Vince if he can make his match with Shawn Michaels a double draw. And Vince said that is fine with him. But while Bret was wrestling Shawn for the WWF world title Vince thought that Bret would go to Nitro the next night and trash the WWF much like former WWF women's champion Medusa did back in 1995. And if Bret would do that on WCW TV that would end the WWF once in for all since WCW was killing WWF over the Monday night ratings. So what Vince did was when Shawn was doing the sharpshooter ( what Bret thought was that he will turn around and do the sharpshooter to Shawn and then Triple H and Rick Rude will run down to the ring and double team on Bret and make Bret win by DQ) to Bret, Vince called for the bell and screwed Bret Hart. This really made Bret mad since Vince promised Bret that he did not have to drop the title that night. This movie is a most see for all wrestling fans. But if you hate wrestling it is also a great drama. The ending is great and it really takes a good look behind the scene in the wrestling world. 8 out of ten stars . This is the 2nd best documentary I ever saw. Best is Bowling for Co.
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8/10
I hate WWF but this film is great!
glensleeo9 October 2001
I hate wrestling for many reasons. I was stuck for something to watch one night on TV and ended up watching this. Within minutes it had me glued with its behind-the-scenes footage of such a fake industry. But as the story unfolds you really get to feel for Bret and his family (such as his younger brother's death performing a dangerous stunt).

This film really shows the power of the documentary film to show a glimpse into someone's real life. It just so happens this person is in a larger-than-life business.

A must-see for everyone - wrestling fans or not!
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10/10
The best documentary there every will be
danielnunez-8151829 September 2019
I remember as a kid, my dad and I would forge through all video rental stores including blockbuster to attempt to find WWF PPV's on home video/VHS. We ended up buying this by mistake not knowing it's a documentary (I was 5 and his primary language is Spanish), at the time it was a bummer, but it was definitely a blessing in disguise, because as I grew older I remained a wrestling fan and learned the behind the scenes jargon and distillation, and loved being part of that fandom. The original VHS has since been discarded, but I rewatched on YouTube and just had to order the VHS on Amazon, I will never open this copy, it will remain a sealed collectible. This documentary is a national treasure. A sobering look into the life of a man who has the wrestling business in his blood. I still don't know how they were able to pull this documentary off. It felt almost voyeuristic to creep into the conflict between Bret, Vince, and HBK, especially looking at it with the power of hindsight and retrospect.

Cannot recommend this enough for wrestling fans. If you're a fan of Bret's or just a fan of wrestling and the business aspect of it, this is a must watch.

10/10
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6/10
Shadowy Motivations...
Howlin Wolf28 September 2011
Bret Hart just comes across as a whiner, to me. If you wanna be in a position where you get to have a say in the outcome of matches, then you become a booker. Wrestlers are there to wrestle. They get paid millions and their share of the limelight, so the least they can do is to do as their boss asks. Yes, it was unscrupulous of Vince to go back on their agreement - but Bret had already shown himself not to be a team player, thinking of his own reputation before making sacrifices to move the company forward. The key word is 'entertainment'; there's no such thing as integrity of character in a profession that is coordinated using pre- planned results.

You look at the rare breed of performer who've had an unbroken run with one company - I bet during their tenure they've had angles they disliked or didn't totally jive with, but they've worked it out somehow and done as requested, because that's what they're paid for. Millions of ordinary civilian workers have aspects of their jobs that are tough to swallow, but they take it as part of the deal... Why should wrestlers expect to be treated differently?
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6/10
Good documentary with footage of the Montreal incident
DJJOEINC27 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Hit-man Hart :Wrestling With Shadows Yes I have seen it- amazing look behind the curtain of Pro Wrestling- Hit-man Hart Wrestling With Shadows- the thing is Bret immersed himself into his wrestling character and lost his objectivity- so when he was supposed to do the honors and give over the belt he did not- sure Vince lied to him- but given the voliatility of the times(the women's champ had gone over to WCW and threw the WWF belt into the trash,WCW & WWF were in a war,etc.) Vince made the only decision he could make for his family business.The thing was filmed before Owen's death. The Hart Foundation, a WWF stable in 1997 has been cursed- The British Bulldog,Owen Hart and Brian Pillman have all passed away and Bret is now retired due to reoccurring concusions...

also seek out the excellent Bret Hart 3 DVD comp from the WWE
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8/10
Argh! What kind of wrestling fan am I?
Spuzzlightyear6 March 2006
It's hard to believe that it took me like, forever, to finally get to see 'Bret Hart: Wrestling With Shadows", since I consider myself to be quite a wrestling fan, AND I was born in Calgary and watched Stampede Wrestling religiously (and went to a lot of their matches!). So I know a lot of the Hart family's history. This is of course, THE definitive documentation of went down during the Survivor Series incident in Montreal. It's sort of fun watching the whole thing develop, and sort of makes me wonder if the whole thing was a whole elaborate set-up, since of course, the documentary cameras were there to catch it all. It probably wasn't, so this is a classic piece of wrestling history caught on tape. This just doesn't cover that moment though, as it focuses on the latter part of Bret's WWF days, while providing a fascinating romp through the Hart family history. Stu Hart of course, even though he was quite cordial to everyone (me included (thanks, Stu, for letting me take pictures for my college course of some Stampede Wrestling!) he still was a borderline sadist for what he did to people in his dungeon. Of course, the REALLY sad thing about this is that this ends at precisely a ridiculous tumultuous downward spiral for the family. What with Bret's marriage falling apart, Owen's death, followed by Bret getting thumped on the head by Goldberg,, which led to his stroke..followed THAT by the death of Helen and ultimately Stu. So this is a bit of a sad film to watch if you follow wrestling. But even if you don't, this is still quite entertaining.
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The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be
legend-117 February 1999
Watching wrestling with shadows i noticed one thing that Vince Mcmahon forgot that when dealing with talent never burn your bridges. vince forgot this and now he's paying for it big time. this is one of the best documentaries on film.
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7/10
An Excellent Show
Madcapsjs4 May 2000
I was really jacked about seeing this and it didn't disappoint. I am writing this review in May 2000, after seeing the movie again (I have it on tape). It has more of an impact because of the death of Bret's brother, Owen, last May at a pay-per-view in Kansas City (pardon the grammar). I recently saw "Beyond the Mat" and it can't hold a candle to this film. Ok, so why is it good, you ask? I'll tell you. It strips the varnish off of the world of "sports entertainment" by showing that loyalty, a sense of right and wrong and giving your "word" have no meaning in the WWF. Vince speaks of how "Bret screwed Bret" and that he had no option but to do what he did. I say that's bogus. It was a matter of simple economics and Vince not being as smart as he thinks he is. He made a deal, stood to lose his shirt and then set upon a course of action to undo the "damage." For those who know some of the inner-workings of wrestling, I want to state I am not a simple "mark" who doesn't really know what is what. You don't have to be a Rhodes scholar to be able to tell right from wrong. Bret deserved better and in the end he took it in the keyster for being a stand-up guy. To quote the prophet Miller, "that's just my opinion, I could be wrong." Enjoy the movie.
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10/10
Great Behind-the-Scenes Wrestling Documentary
rick-smiley128 February 2015
When the movie was first coming to fruition, it was to be a documentary about Bret The Hit-man Hart. Low and behold, it became the backdrop to the Attitude Era while documenting the behind the scenes events during the infamous Montreal Screwjob.

We all know what happened during the Survivor Series in Montreal that year when Bret was leaving the WWF for WCW. At least from the WWF/WWE Point of View. Here, you will see conversations that happened backstage in the hours and minutes leading up to the Survivor Series and then the events after the Survivor Series Pay Per View went off the air - both in the ring and in the back, including audio from the "private" meeting between Vince and Bret after the match.

Even if you dislike The Hit-man, this is a movie that is a must watch for any wrestling fan.
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9/10
Wrestling isn't a phony, it's an art
maiquedi4 July 2012
It's a must-see for wrestling fans, but it's not just with them in mind. It also addresses people who don't understand the art of sports entertainment itself. To call this a biography of Bret Hart's career would be an understatement.

To begin with, although it features mainly comments from Bret Hart himself, it's not actually biased towards "The Hit-man" - it features in fact takes on many of the wrestlers and Mr. McMahon himself. Most importantly, though, it's a deep journey into the unknown world of Wrestling behind the scenes: it doesn't hide the fact that most results are staged, but it also shows us why "Sports Entertainment" is enjoyed by so many people, why there are the good guys and the bad guys in the rivalries between the performers, and points out that the stigma of wrestling being fake is an overstatement. As Bret said, and I quote: "There is an art to wrestling, but people never come up to say 'You're a hell of an actor', they always come and say 'You're a phony!' Naturally, one big part of the documentary involves Bret's personal life and endeavors involving family members and fellow wrestlers, including the popular and shocking "Montreal Screwjob," and it does an excellent job at that. However, this is not just about "The Hit-man", it's about Wrestling Entertainment itself, its performers arduous tasks and lives outside the ring and how the fans define what they do. It's an awe-inspiring perspective that makes all sense and, without hiding anything, portrays the business as something even not only intriguing but also exciting and that has even once defined a rivalry between people from the U.S. and Canada.
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10/10
The Shadows of Wrestling
Terryfan30 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Many Wrestling fans would call Hit-man Hart:Wrestling With Shadows a classic with going inside into the sport of Pro wrestling.

For one year a crew would follow the life of Wrestling Legend Bret "Hit-man" Hart and his final run in the World Wrestling Federation.

During the film, the fans get a rare look into the life of a Pro Wrestler and what goes behind the scenes in wrestling.

We also get to see a great history behind the Hit-man character and what got the whole Hart family into Wrestling.

The Family members of Hart would share stories about their family and share how Wrestling got into their world.

Also we get interviews with Bret's co workers in the World Wrestling Federation.

We also learn about the history between Bret Hart and Vince McMahon.

This film really digs deep into the shadows of wrestling and really shows how fans of the sport should look at Wrestling.

Bret Hart would share his thoughts on wrestling and the WWF.

If you are a fan of Wrestling or someone who wants to look deep into wrestling then I recommend Hit-man Hart Wrestling With Shadows.

I give Hit-man Hart: Wrestling with Shadows A Ten Out Of Ten.

This film will show that Bret Hit-man Hart is without a doubt The Best There Is The Best There Was And The Best There Ever Will Be
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10/10
An Intimate Look Behind the Wizard's Curtain
couturegal1129 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this documentary for the first time a few weeks ago when I learned that Bret Hart was coming back to work for the WWE (then WWF). This documentary was outstanding. Never has a famous person come across as so real and so vulnerable. Who can blame Bret for jumping to WCW? He had a family to worry about it and like any good man he did what he thought was best for his family. He did not want to leave Vince high-and-dry, but he was caught between a rock and a hard place. I have always been a pro wrestling fan, but I never realized how hard life is for these performers. The amount of politics that go on behind the scenes really is unbelievable. At the end of the day, Bret Hart faced a timeless moral dilemma: does he stick by the company that created him despite his moral objections to the direction that the company is taking, or does he turn his back on them and follow his heart, even if it means selling out and betraying friends? It is a decision that we all must make in one form or another, and it is this that makes Wrestling with Shadows not a documentary about pro wrestling, but instead a documentary about humanity. 11 out of 10 stars.
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