The Resurrection Of Jake The Snake Roberts

April 8, 2016

Review, Theatrical 3 Comments

"...persistently engaging, deeply moving..."
The Resurrection Of Jake The Snake Roberts (1)

The Resurrection Of Jake The Snake Roberts

By Julian Shaw
Year: 2015
Rating: NA
Director: Steve Yu

Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Diamond Dallas Page, Chris Jericho, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin

Released: April 24 Premiere Event, The Astor Theatre, Melbourne
Running Time: 93 minutes
Worth: $18.50

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

…persistently engaging, deeply moving…

“Didn’t you used to be Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts?” That was the question haunting Aurelian Smith Jr., the real name of the man who plied his trade in the World Wrestling Federation in the ‘80s and ‘90s as a moustachioed snake-wrangler. A brusque prologue turns to some of the biggest icons in pro wrestling – including household names Chris Jericho and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – to set up Roberts as one of the premier performers in wrestling history, while quickly puncturing any pretence of the entertainment form’s realism.

Though he never maintained the body-builder physique of other stars in the industry, Roberts made himself a legend with his whispery promos (industry talk for on-camera interviews), sinewy physicality and peerless sense of in-ring psychology. Cut to 2008 and the man who played to 93,000 at Wrestlemania 3 was rock-bottom drunk in front of a crowd of 700, too blotto to even pull off his famous finishing manoeuvre, the DDT. Lingering wounds from an unloving father, as well as all manner of nasty physical abuse visited upon him throughout his childhood, had put Roberts on the fast track to a life of alcoholism and crack cocaine abuse. In wrestling parlance, addiction had the chokehold. Enter Diamond Dallas Page, or DDP, whom Jake had once taken under his wing as a 35-year-old wrestling rookie and who had reinvented himself post-wrestling with a brand of power-based yoga called DDP Yoga. Page – flanked by courageous filmmaker, Steve Yu, who only lowers his camera when he is milliseconds from receiving a punch in the face – brings Roberts into his home to rehabilitate him, instilling a culture of tough love and accountability as he attempts to transform the obese wreck into a figure resembling the svelte performer-athlete of decades ago, with a clear mind to match.

The majority of the film documents this rollercoaster process, and it is always gut-wrenchingly, tear-jerkingly intense and heartfelt. If you recall the potent and tightly made 1999 doco, Beyond The Mat, which depicted Roberts’ tortured relationship with his daughter, then you’re in for more of the same, though the compassion of DDP gives the film a unique tone of optimism and inspiration. The addition of another tragic wrestling figure in Scott Hall, aka Razor Roman, adds further fascination to this story of redemption, which is persistently engaging, deeply moving, and finally profoundly inspiring. In short, Jake The Man makes for pure documentary gold, with his salty turns of phrase, busted heart, and that tiny sliver of hope which he clings to like a boa constrictor even in his darkest hours. “I know this is my last fucking shot at life,” he rasps at one point, and we are privileged to be given front row seats on his journey.


  1. John Paul

    I didn’t know anything about this story before going in (which is admittedly the best way to experience a movie). I was expecting something similar to “the wrestler” with Mickey Rourke (which I really like). While there were common threads, instead of a decline into degradation, it was a steady climb out of despair.

    I caught myself thinking back to Saturday mornings with friends, watching wresting, acting out our favorite wrestlers, and the matches. Then you grow up, forget about your childhood heroes and take for granted that they are regular people, with lives marked by failures and triumphs alike.

    I was compelled, not only with Jake’s desire to take control of his destiny, but the support of fans and especially DDP (who has a heart is bigger than Texas) which proves that although change is ultimately ours to own, support will help you pick up one foot, place it in front of the other. And repeate.

    I’m typically drawn toward film/documentaries that are dark and edgy, but this story resonates. Whether you are taking a “last shot at life” or you are the support, it is a bolt of light.

    Why do we watch film? Beyond entertainment, hopefully to find a chord and strike it. Jake’s story does that.

  2. Rob Russen

    I helped Diamond Dallas Page get his start in professional wrestling and have followed his efforts both in and out of the ring ever since. After watching this incredible documentary I called DDP on the phone and told him that I have never been more proud of him in his entire career for what he did to salvage the life, reputation and post careers of Jake The Snake Roberts and Scott Hall both of whom were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a result of Page’s incredible caring for them and his DDP Ypya program. This is a truly emotional story. I dare you to watch it without tears coming to your eyes.

  3. Charles Clark

    I remember years ago going to the Dallas sportatorium and Fort Worth Will Rogers Auditorium where I witnessed his wrestling skills. During the mid-eighties I did a lot of freelance photography and remember the excitement he would bring to the ring whenever he wrestled. People loved the snake and was always excited whenever he brought it out to throw around the neck of his downed opponent. He like so many others in those days of wrestling , all of the Von Erichs , Michael Hayes and Buddy Roberts, and Terry Gordy who made up the free birds, of course the Iceman , and Bruiser Brody , he was always my favorite and let’s not forget green faced Kabuki, and Kamala the Ugandan Giant who’s manager with skandor Akbar, and during one of the wrestlemanias when Kevin Von Erich picked up and body slammed Kamala , and last but not least of all of the great wrestlers was Andre the Giant . Saw him many times in the wrestling ring . When these all came together was always a night filled with excitement Those were good days to remember..

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