Born and Bred

Pic surveys the amateur boxing scene where would-be champions begin fighting officially as early as age 8, unofficially even earlier.

With:
With: Oscar Molina, Javier Molina, Robert Luna, Victor Pasillas, Rodrigo Mosquero, Teddy Atlas, Jim Lampley, David Avila, Roberto Suro, Miguel Molina, Gloria Molina, Gabriel Pasillas, Hector Beccera. (English, Spanish dialogue)

Mostly filmed in East Los Angeles, “Born and Bred” surveys the amateur boxing scene where would-be champions begin fighting officially as early as age 8, unofficially even earlier. Though putatively concentrating on three teens’ aspirations to go pro and “be somebody,” director Justin Frimmer has distilled his 150 hours of raw cinema-verite footage into a style diametrically opposed to that of, say, “Hoop Dreams,” taking a somewhat clip-happy, short-attention-span approach to his material. Superficial but definitely slickly commercial, “Born” could land punches on sports-themed channels and Latino-friendly airwaves following its Aug. 19 premiere at Gotham’s Quad Cinema.

Shortly after they began covering the kids’ bouts in 2005 (they filmed them until 2010), helmer Frimmer and his crew happily hit on two of their pic’s fairly well-chosen “stars.” Personable, soft-spoken, 16-year-old twin brothers Oscar and Javier Molina have set themselves on a career path toward becoming boxing elite. Providing a contrast is the pic’s third main character, former child-abuse victim Victor Pasillas, first caught at age 13; the highly volatile Victor possesses a fierceness quite at odds with the Molinas’ self-disciplined professionalism.

Trainers Robert Luna, who manages the Molinas, and Rodrigo Mosquero, who handles Pasillas, also rep key players. Practically surrogate fathers, Luna and Mosquero inevitably instill life values during workouts, weigh-ins and ringside pep talks. But given the film’s predilection for flashy setpieces, its attempts to fully explore the trainers’ backstories and those of the kids’ families do not connect emotionally.

Frimmer’s choppy aesthetic is such that almost every establishing shot, underscored with mostly generic Latin/hip-hop tracks, becomes a jump-cut montage of neighborhood ambience that suggests a misplaced musicvideo. The film’s flow periodically curdles into topical asides — a section about gang violence over here, a section about immigration over there. One sidetrack-within-a-sidetrack impressionistically re-creates the harrowing experiences of the Molinas’ mom as an illegal alien.

The importance of religion is skirted but never formally addressed in frequent glimpses of crucifixes and Virgin Mary statuettes; in a briefly spotted “Jabbing for Jesus” T-shirt in a crowd; and in Mosquero’s tendency to give interviews while reading the Bible.

Of the countless boxing matches sampled in fragmented fashion, only one is presented with a continuity the viewer can follow, though it’s an important one: Javier’s adult-level, do-or-die fight against an older contender from Philadelphia at Colorado Springs’ Olympics Eliminator, potentially qualifying him to advance to the 2008 Olympic trials in Houston.

Left with the task of extracting morals and deeper meanings about minority acculturation and boxing as the most “culturally resonant” sport are boxing gurus like Teddy Atlas (who trained Mike Tyson), HBO boxing commentator Jim Lampley, USC professor Roberto Suro, sports journalist David Avila and the Los Angeles Times’ Hector Beccera, all of whom are irregularly inserted.

Born and Bred

Production: A Purebred Films, 24th Hour production. Produced by Justin Frimmer. Executive producer, Franklin Rothschild. Co-producers, Tom Weiss, Bixby Knolls, Franny Horst. Directed by Justin Frimmer.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Jamie Urman, Arlene Muller, Greg Gill, John Boatner, Mark Roberts; editors, Guillermo Rodriguez, Brad Besser, Frimmer; music, Adam Balazs, Pez Wilson; sound, Misha Kachkachishvili, Joe Deceault. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Aug. 15, 2011. Running time: 94 MIN.

With: With: Oscar Molina, Javier Molina, Robert Luna, Victor Pasillas, Rodrigo Mosquero, Teddy Atlas, Jim Lampley, David Avila, Roberto Suro, Miguel Molina, Gloria Molina, Gabriel Pasillas, Hector Beccera. (English, Spanish dialogue)

More Film

  • 'Adrift' Director Baltasar Kormakur on Casting

    'Adrift' Director Baltasar Kormakur on Casting Shailene Woodley, Shooting Surrounded by Sharks

    Mostly filmed in East Los Angeles, “Born and Bred” surveys the amateur boxing scene where would-be champions begin fighting officially as early as age 8, unofficially even earlier. Though putatively concentrating on three teens’ aspirations to go pro and “be somebody,” director Justin Frimmer has distilled his 150 hours of raw cinema-verite footage into a […]

  • Trevor Jackson and Jason Mitchell in

    Film News Roundup: Sony Opening Crime Thriller 'Superfly' Two Days Earlier

    Mostly filmed in East Los Angeles, “Born and Bred” surveys the amateur boxing scene where would-be champions begin fighting officially as early as age 8, unofficially even earlier. Though putatively concentrating on three teens’ aspirations to go pro and “be somebody,” director Justin Frimmer has distilled his 150 hours of raw cinema-verite footage into a […]

  • The Dead and the Others Review

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Dead and the Others'

    Mostly filmed in East Los Angeles, “Born and Bred” surveys the amateur boxing scene where would-be champions begin fighting officially as early as age 8, unofficially even earlier. Though putatively concentrating on three teens’ aspirations to go pro and “be somebody,” director Justin Frimmer has distilled his 150 hours of raw cinema-verite footage into a […]

  • Transilvania Film Fest Raises Curtain on

    Transilvania Film Festival Raises Curtain on 17th Edition

    Mostly filmed in East Los Angeles, “Born and Bred” surveys the amateur boxing scene where would-be champions begin fighting officially as early as age 8, unofficially even earlier. Though putatively concentrating on three teens’ aspirations to go pro and “be somebody,” director Justin Frimmer has distilled his 150 hours of raw cinema-verite footage into a […]

  • 'The Division' Director on Breaking the

    'The Division' Director David Leitch on Breaking the Video Game Movie Curse

    Mostly filmed in East Los Angeles, “Born and Bred” surveys the amateur boxing scene where would-be champions begin fighting officially as early as age 8, unofficially even earlier. Though putatively concentrating on three teens’ aspirations to go pro and “be somebody,” director Justin Frimmer has distilled his 150 hours of raw cinema-verite footage into a […]

  • moviepass card

    MoviePass Parent's Stock Slides to Another Record Low

    Mostly filmed in East Los Angeles, “Born and Bred” surveys the amateur boxing scene where would-be champions begin fighting officially as early as age 8, unofficially even earlier. Though putatively concentrating on three teens’ aspirations to go pro and “be somebody,” director Justin Frimmer has distilled his 150 hours of raw cinema-verite footage into a […]

  • Happytime Murders

    'Sesame Street' Creators Sue STX Entertainment Over Marketing for 'The Happytime Murders'

    Mostly filmed in East Los Angeles, “Born and Bred” surveys the amateur boxing scene where would-be champions begin fighting officially as early as age 8, unofficially even earlier. Though putatively concentrating on three teens’ aspirations to go pro and “be somebody,” director Justin Frimmer has distilled his 150 hours of raw cinema-verite footage into a […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content