3 StarsCarlos Avila’s feature debut is a boxing drama centered around a Mexican American family living in Arizona. It’s a sports movie that plays like a weighty family epic, something in the vein of Gregory Nava’s Mi Familia only with fisticuffs. Like that film, Price of Glory also stars Jimmy Smits in a remarkable portrayal. This time Smits is cast as a disgruntled and irritable man, with much pride and arrogance, to cover his bitterness at a failed boxing career.
Arturo Ortega (Jimmy Smits), a man who’s boxing career was cut short in his prime, now pushes his three sons into the brutal sport. He manages the trio of fighters and trains them with an iron-fist, taking them from junior competitors to world ranked contenders. However, Arturo’s training style and abusive manner toward his children threaten their careers and more importantly their family relationship.
Sonny (Jon Seda), the oldest respects the knowledge of his father but quietly seeks a life for himself outside the sport. Arturo believe Sonny is distracted by women and that belies a softness to his eldest. Jimmy (Clifton Collins, Jr.) the defiant middle son, buckles under the intense scrutiny of his father’s watchful eye. Under an enormous amount of pressure, Jimmy turns to drugs to find self-confidence. Johnny (Ernesto Hernandez), the youngest is the most talented and closest to Arturo in terms of rage and ambition. This combination leads to a tragedy that pulls the family apart. One final training camp is all that is left for the Ortega family to come together.
The are some scenes that truly hum in the picture and Smits is very good, along with the actors playing his three sons. Yet, there is a calculated clichéd approach to not only the boxing matches but the material involving the family’s tragedies and dilemmas. Things are glided over too fast, a glimpse into the drug addled world of Jimmy shows him high at the gym, causing an impromptu intervention, only to never be referenced again.
From moment to moment Price of Glory works, even if the climax of the big fight at the end is poorly executed and lacks emotional impact. The cast is working extremely hard and they deserve a more articulate script with a clearer through-line. For the acting, sturdy direction from Carlos Avila, and crisply captured fight sequences, I recommend the movie. If the script matched the talent in front of the cameras, Price of Glory could have been one of the subgenre’s best.
Director: Carlos Avila
Stars: Jimmy Smits, Maria del Mar, Jon Seda, Clifton Collins Jr., Ernesto Hernandez, Ron Perlman, Louis Mandylor