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Price of Glory

Rated [PG-13]
Starring Jimmy Smits and John Seda; Paul Rodriguez and Ron Perlman
Screenplay by Phil Berger
Directed by Carlos Avila

Price of Glory may try to look like another kind of Rocky, but it's a different kind of story -- as boxing movies never really are about "pure" boxing. This is a father-son story hip deep in broken dreams, miscommunication and sibling rivalry. At its center is Arturo Ortega (Jimmy Smits), once upon a time screwed by a manager and pummeled into a pulp by a better fighter than he. With his wife, Rita (Maria Del Mar), he is raising three young sons. Two will fight. One will go to college, or so Arturo plans. We all know what happens to the best laid plans . . .

While the film moves through the Silver Gloves years quickly, the very idea of putting single digit kidlets in the ring is brutal and unappealing and downright unpleasant to sit through. But a boxer has got to learn somewhere and this film, written by former NY Times sports columnist Phil Berger, doesn't shy away from detailing the years of training necessary to lead to the point where a man can fight to be a champion. More important, these years establish the connections between parent and child, brother and brother, that will mark their adult lives.

Sonny (Jon Seda) is the eldest son. He has the power but not the ambition that his father wants to see. While he wants to be champion, he also wants a wife and an outside life. In short, he wants some control, which papa isn't ready to give. The middle son is Jimmy (Clifton Collins Jr.), who's fast and fights furiously but doesn't think his way through his bouts. He's incredibly jealous of the attention that Sonny gets -- and Sonny gets it because Arturo knows that Jimmy will never be a champion. With two substantial paychecks in the bank, Arturo tells Jimmy to hang it up. Problem is, Jimmy doesn't want to retire. The littlest kidlet is Johnny (Ernesto Hernandez), "destined" for college but possessing the spark that could make him the greatest champion of all. The money men see the future in Johnny and while Arturo negotiates with Nick Everson (Ron Perlman) across the years, an acrimony builds between the two men that will lead to disaster, in the form of Everson's right hand man Pepe (Paul Rodriguez).

All three sons will enter the ring. All three will fight in the same weight class. While your brain, if it's anything like mine, waits for the inevitable clash between brothers (whether it's in the ring or outside of it), said inevitable comes about in a surprising manner. That four strong character stories can play out without infringing on one another is a good thing. This flick is a good sit.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Price of Glory, he would have paid...


Price of Glory allows you the satisfaction of watching the "good guy" win (well, duh) but doesn't provide the same elation found at the ends of Rocky I and II. As a story of a family shredded by ambition and misfortune, that rebuilds itself and survives despite all that happens, it works very well.

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