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Political corruption is vividly depicted as a ruthless WWI veteran takes almost complete control of a state with the help of a crooked lawyer. The film is enhanced by John Payne's persuasive performance as "The Boss."
Even the cheap production values of The Ring which admittedly looks like it was shot on chump change give it a look of authenticity. The Ring is a fine film about a young Mexican-American kid who thinks that boxing could be his ticket out of the slums. The lead here is played by young Lalos Rios who went on to a substantial career for the next twenty years.
Better known of course is Rita Moreno who was doing her fourth film and she plays Rios's girl friend. It's a part light years different from Anita in West Side Story.
Lalos Rios plays young Tommy Cantanios whose family is going through a real financial crisis. His father is laid off from work and they owe a lot of money for furniture on credit. Young Tommy asks to help, but his father, Martin Garralaga sluffs off the offer.
In the history of Mexican-Americans, The Ring tells its story in a time almost halfway between the zoot suit rioters of the Forties and the organization of migrant farm laborers by Cesar Chavez in the Sixties. Still a time when the discrimination that brought on the zoot suit riots was very real.
After a couple of encounters with some discrimination young Rios gets a lift by chance from fight manager Gerald Mohr who sees some possibilities in the kid. He takes him under his wing and changes his professionally to Tommy Kansas. He and trainer Robert Osterloh bring him up the ranks slowly.
Of course Rios is impatient and Mohr starts to question whether he really does have the talent to make it really big in the fight game.
The Ring is a very realistic film about the fight game and life in East Los Angeles in the Fifties. Look also for good performances from Jack Elam as a sleazy fight promoter and from Art Aragon who was a popular welterweight boxer from back in the day who later went into acting after his ring days were done.
Rios learns two very valuable lessons, one is best summed up by that eminent American philosopher Clint Eastwood who once remarked a man's got to know his limitations. But even more important Rios learns that The Ring is not the only place he can fight for his beliefs and his people. The arena of life is not just a squared circle.
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