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An ex-boxer, living with the knowledge that his fight career was cut short by a crooked manager, channels his bitter disappointment in a single-minded quest for boxing championships for his three sons. We see them in pee-wee Silver Glove matches with dad constantly pushing them. Ten years later, they're young men, with dad as both father and manager. A professional promoter, Nick Everson, wants to sign the boys, but dad rejects those offers. Then, in expressions of their varied relationships with their father, each son makes his own decisions. Can dad ever step aside, and can the family hold together? Written by
Shameless and trite, another one line, predictable story. ** out of ****.
PRICE OF GLORY / (2000) **
By Blake French:
A father pressures his children to accomplish tasks he failed to do when he was their age. Will his determination push his offspring over the edge? Will his family fall apart? Any experienced moviegoer will recognize these questions. In "Price of Glory," the most shameless father-son movie since "Dead Poets Society," heavy-handed morals burden us with cynical messages in which we already know to be true. Director Carlos Avila is so focused here he forgets to give the audience relief from the dramatic lectures characters recite out of habit rather than out of passion.
"Price of Glory" details a Mexican family's attempts at victory in the sport of boxing. The father, Arturo Ortega (well played by Jimmy Smits), husband of Rita (Maria del Mar), lost a world title when he was young and does not what his three sons to make the same failures. He trains his children young, putting boxing authority over that of homework, school, or any future outside sports. Jimmy (Clifton Collins Jr.), Sonny (Jon Seda), and Johnny (Ernesto Hernandez), are good at the sport, but their father expects too much.
I cannot figure out why the film takes so long to develop young Johnny and Jimmy Ortega as hardened boxers when a key figure in the story is Sonny. Perhaps the filmmakers are endeavoring to show discipline between Arturo and his individual children. This method does not work as well as it should.
The movie is shameless in the Arturo character's discipline. Nearly every character experiences high pressure. The tired message is already so familiar, seeing this movie serves no purpose in the first place. Relationships are sacrificed. Careers become unclear. Finances are pursued. All the events begin to unravel for another predictable climax.
The Ortega children grow to be young adults, still acquiring a passion for boxing through their demanding father. Johnny, Jimmy, and Sonny all become world class fighters. Sonny becomes married. Jimmy losses an important match to Davey Lane (Louis Mandylor). Arturo does business with a classy representative named Nick Everson (Ron Perlman), who guarantees successful careers through his agency. A family tragedy occurs incorporated by the semi-accidental murder of a character. The Ortegas become closer than ever. Sonny vows to defeat Davey Lane and claim victory without his father's assistance.
That is basically "Price of Glory" in a nutshell, riddled with structural problems, character flaws, and a contrived conclusion. This film is a prime example of a one-line script, lacking dimension, depth, and the story moves forward to a predictable and trite ending. The film's atmosphere is dull due to the lack of conflict. Arturo Ortega's demanding persistence is the internal antagonism, but the external seems to change in order to meet the script's necessity.
The biggest problem with "Price of Glory" is the lack of profundity within the characters. Writer Phil Berger sets up the theme of action so quickly, he forgets depth and characterization. We are never exposed to their inner personalities nor do we get to know them. How can we empathize with characters whom we do not know? A key example of a character flaw is the relationship between Sonny and his newlywed wife. The audience never witnesses any passion or love scenes between them, and the filmmakers do not take advantage of the physical appeal of well-cast actor Jon Seda's. His character enhances moral straightening in act two. However, that is just part of the film's ironic use of Arturo's sons drifting in and out of focus determining his stance on life.
The boxing scenes are some of the movie's best. Such sequences are taut, brutal and believable. When Sonny battles Davey Lane the tension in the audience is peak high. Unfortunately, this final confrontation is of the most predictable and formulaic I have ever witnessed. Jon Seda brings a reliable character forth and as a convincing boxer. However, all of the characters are well acted. This is why we wish for a more gradual script.
"Price of Glory" contains a narrative problem in the last component of the second act. Most of this section wastes time, although it contains a few truth revealing confrontations. The scenes do not move the story forward, but build to a horrible conclusion. In the later parts, this movie's story changes its mind of what it details. We experience this contrived switch from family standards to achieving a victory through a boxing match.
The climax in "Price of Glory" reminds me of that of "The Might Ducks." Both are against all odds but expected. Both offer effective tension and action. Both are pointless. Unlike "Price of Glory," however, at least the other film contained comic relief. If "Price of Glory" were to smile, I think the character's faces would crack.
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