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Grade: CPrice of Glory (2000)

Director: Carlos Ávila

Stars: Jimmy Smits, Maria del Mar, Jon Seda, Clifton Collins Jr.

Release Company: New Line Cinema

MPAA Rating: PG-13

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Avila: Price of Glory

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The film industry has a history of making a few good to excellent boxing movies, including Requiem for a Heavyweight, Rocky, and Raging Bull. Unfortunately, Price of Glory doesn't even match the quality of Rocky V.

Not that New Line Cinema's film doesn't have the potential to be a decent movie. It has the outline of a plot that sounds workable: a failed boxer (Jimmy Smits) attempts to relive his dreams through his three sons, they go through family struggles and conflicts, and one son will emerge to claim the prize. It's typical boxing fare, but add the Hispanic culture undertones and some family values, and you could have a prize winning and financially successful movie.

Price of Glory falls far short of doing that. We see Aurturo Ortega (Jimmy Smits) get pummeled in the beginning, then flash forward 13 years later to Mariposa, Arizona where the elder Ortega is training two of his sons for the upcoming Silver Gloves championships. The youngest son also gets involved in PeeWee boxing and grows to potentially become the best of the three younger Ortegas.

Flash forward another 10 years and the young Ortegas are still doing the same thing, and are still being coached by their father. A boxing promoter shows interest in the youngest brother, but makes package offers for all three brothers. Aurturo hold off for a while, but later decides to give his middle son Jimmy a chance for prize money and sets him up with the promoter. This in turn confuses the other two sons, who are more talented boxers. There are more bumps along the way, but one of the sons will emerge at the end with a legitimate shot at the middleweight championship.

With the same feel as a made for TV movie, this is the first feature film that director Carlos Avila has done besides television drama. This same predisposition may hold true for lead actor Jimmy Smits, who is best known for his work on the NYPD Blue series. In fact, all the actors have much more experience with television acting than feature length film acting. The only actor that doesn't have television experience is Ernesto Hernandez, and he has no previous experience at all!

The acting is'nt the main challenge with Price of Glory. Smits carries the film well enough, and Jon Seda has enough charisma and ability to handle the role of the eldest boxing son. The others could be effective as well. The script holds all of them back, however. It is filled with stereotypical dialog, gives Smits little to do except shout at his sons and throw chairs around, and the script doesn't develop any of the characters. Even though the movie covers some 25 years, all the surviving characters are still pretty much the same at the end as they were in the beginning.

It's a shame, because I wanted to care about these characters. It's relatively rare that Hispanics get to play leading roles, and this film could have at least shown some of the inside culture in the small Arizona border town where most of the action takes place. Instead we get a couple of Spanish words tossed at us that are designed only to give a couple of chuckles to Spanish speakers.

The film also sets us up to witness a father-son reconciliation scene. We have one of sorts with middle son Jimmy, but it feels unsatisfying. They only scratch the surface. More interesting would have been a similar scene with the oldest son, Sonny, who is the most interesting and conflicted character in the film. In fact, had the film chosen to focus more from Sonny's point of view, it could have proven more effective.

The one scene that work
s well is near the end when Jimmy and Sonny begin to train together. It has a similar feel as the training portion with the original Rocky film--the yolk drinking, pushups, punching bag, and racing up the library steps. It's a pity that this scene only lasts one minute.

The final fight scene
is pretty well done. Of course the "evil" opponent is vilified with no redeeming qualities -- he's obnoxious and cheats by head butting and throwing rabbit punches, but this all means that we know how the fight will turn out. .

 


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