Price of Glory

Directed by Carlos Ávila
Starring: Jimmy Smits, Ron Perlman, Maria del Mar, Jon Seda, Clifton Collins Jr., Ernesto Hernández, Paul Rodriguez.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, language and brief drug content.

Review by Matt Heffernan
April 6, 2000

There is a definite need for more Latino-centered films in Hollywood. Any group that is such a large percentage of the population should have their stories told. However, telling any story this poorly is never welcome.

Arturo Ortega (Jimmy Smits) once had a promising career in boxing, but one bad match pretty much ended it. So, he raised a family in the border town of Mariposa, Arizona with his wife, Rita (Maria del Mar). They have three boys, and Arturo trains all of them at the local boxing club. Each of them have a natural talent at a very early age, reaching professional status as soon as possible.

The oldest son, Sonny (Jon Seda), and the middle son, Jimmy (Clifton Collins Jr.), are both undefeated, and they have drawn the attention of promoter Nick Everson (Ron Perlman). He wants to take management from Arturo for a hefty price -- especially if Johnny (Ernesto Hernández), the youngest and most promising, goes pro early under Everson's organization. Arturo is too proud and too stubborn to relinquish control, but he must also look out for his sons' future.

That familiar story could make a mediocre film at best, but Carlos Ávila's debut as a feature film director can only aspire to mediocrity. Just when I thought Play it to the Bone would be the worst boxing movie of the year, here comes Price of Glory in all its melodramatic splendor. Every possible cliché about fathers living vicariously through their sons is used. There isn't a single moment of originality, just one artificial scene after another -- for nearly two hours! The last half hour was the most trying time I have had in a movie theatre all year.

All this could be partly remedied by good performances. Unfortunately, none are delivered. Even the usually dependable Smits and Perlman flounder. Not that they had much choice with Phil Berger's screenplay. There are no real characters to be found, which is no help for the less talented members of the cast. The only solution for this film is to cut it to shreds, and play it as a Movie of the Week. Then you may get some enjoyment out of the commercial breaks.

Ultimately, televsion is where this film belonged. But, because of the dearth of Latino films, there was a theatrical market. I know there is talent out there (Gregory Nava, Robert Rodriguez), but Hollywood ends up wasting it on lesser projects (Why Do Fools Fall In Love, The Faculty). If material like this keeps coming out, you can forget about anything decent in the future.

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Price of Glory (2000)

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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan