Movie Mom

Movie Mom

The Real Story: Pain & Gain

posted by Nell Minow

Pain-and-Gain wahlberg rockdaniellugo-prison-mugThis week’s release “Pain & Gain” opens with these words: “Unfortunately, a true story.”  Indeed, three body builders from Dade County did come up with a plot to make money by kidnapping a wealthy businessman and having him sign over his assets to them.  The movie is based on a three-part magazine article by Pete Collins about “the now-infamous Sun Gym gang – a band of knuckleheaded bodybuilders who became confederates in an abduction-torture-extortion-murder ring gone haywire.”  Collins spent two years investigating the case, including trudging through 67 boxes of court documents and attending the five-month-long trial.  His book about the case is Pain & Gain: This Is A True Story.


I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, so I will just say that many of the most wildly outlandish details of the movie eally happened, plus a lot more that was even stranger but too complicated to include in the movie.  The Miami New Times News has an update about the current status of the characters.  On the left, a photo of Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson from the movie.  On the right, a mug shot of the real-life ringleader, Daniel Lugo, now on death row.

The man who was kidnapped has written two books about the experience, Pain and Gain-The Untold True Story and Pain and Gain: How I Survived and Triumphed: An Uplifting Story of Thriving after a Traumatic Experience.



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