×

Film Review: ‘Chavez: Cage of Glory’

Argentinian MMA star Hector Echevarria makes an ill-conceived bid for cinematic 'Glory.'

With:

Hector Echavarria, Danny Trejo, James Russo, Steven Bauer, Patrick Kilpatrick, Sadie Katz, Heath Herring Tony Lopez.

There’s precious little glory — and not even that much cage fighting — in “Chavez: Cage of Glory,” a poverty-row vanity project for Argentinian mixed martial arts champ Hector Echevarria, best known in movies for his supporting role in the hit early ‘90s action-comedy franchise “Los Extermineitors.” An apparent bid by the now U.S.-based writer-director-star to break out of a string of straight-to-DVD action fare (with titles like “Death Warrior” and “Death Calls”), this hilariously straight-faced inventory of moth-eaten fight-movie cliches opened Sept. 13 on a few dozen SoCal screens via Echevarria’s own Destiny Entertainment label, and just as promptly vacated them.

You know you’re in for a special kind of bad-movie experience when “Chavez: Cage of Glory” proffers characters with names like John Stone and Cage Fury without so much as a wink or a smile. The hulking Mr. Fury (played by Echevarria’s fellow real-life MMA competitor, the Dolph Lundgren-esque Heath Herring) is the movie’s prize catch, a world champion fighter whose last opponent ended up in a coma. But that doesn’t deter 42-year-old Hector “The Mexican” Chavez (Echevarria) from jumping at the chance to battle Fury in a high-profile televised bout — on Cinco de Mayo, no less.

As conceived by Echevarria, Hector is the ultimate hard-luck case: unemployed, barely scraping by with his earnings from the low-rent cage-fighting circuit (where the nefarious promoters further pick his pocket), hustled by two-bit thugs (led by the innately menacing Danny Trejo) who want him to join their street gang, and unable to provide adequate medical care for his terminally ill son, afflicted with one of those mysterious heart ailments that used to befall people in ‘30s melodramas. Even Hector’s leggy blonde wife (Sadie Katz) can scarcely go on a job interview without nearly being raped by her prospective employer. Nor is this level of misery anything new for our hero: flashbacks wreathed in a gauzy white light reveal that, as a child, Hector’s father quite literally beat him with one hand while guzzling booze with the other.

Echevarria certainly seems more comfortable in the cage than in these domestic scenes, but even at 92 minutes, “Cage of Glory” takes its sweet time getting there, with lots of training montages and further personal tragedies en route (cue “Scarface” alum Steven Bauer as Hector’s older brother, now a man of the cloth). Pic’s production “values” (or lack thereof) make the average telenovela look like “Masterpiece Theatre,” with scant attempt to disguise recycled locations and insert shots. Composer Niel Argo’s maudlin synthesizer score sounds like a Casio keyboard stuck in “funeral dirge” demo mode.

Popular on Variety

Film Review: 'Chavez: Cage of Glory'

Reviewed at TCL Chinese 6, Los Angeles, September 19, 2013. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 92 MIN.

Production:

A Destiny Entertainment release and presentation. Produced by Ken Schwenker, Alejandro Arigo, Travis Murray, Pablo Garcia, Patrick Kilpatrick. Executive producers, Hector Echavarria, Gina Hattenbach.

Crew:

Directed, written by Hector Echavarria. Camera (color, HD), Seo Mutarevic; editor, Eamon Glennon; music, Niel Argo; production designer, Travis Murray; sound, Jakob Beetem; supervising sound editor, Greg Vossberg; associate producers, Alejandro Arico, Corey Hughes, Jennifer Carmody, Jorge Elias; assistant director, Jennifer Carmody.

With:

Hector Echavarria, Danny Trejo, James Russo, Steven Bauer, Patrick Kilpatrick, Sadie Katz, Heath Herring Tony Lopez.

More Film

  • Harvey Weinstein, Katie Holmes, Taylor Swift'The

    Taylor Swift Downplays Association With Harvey Weinstein

    Taylor Swift’s association with disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein was among the topics the singer addressed in a revealing new interview with The Guardian. Weinstein held producer credits for the movies “One Chance” and “The Giver,” both of which featured Swift — in the former, a song, and in the latter, a supporting role. She [...]

  • Breaking Bad Movie

    'Breaking Bad' Movie: Watch the First Teaser for 'El Camino'

    In case you hadn’t heard – “Breaking Bad” is cooking up a comeback. On Saturday, after details of Netflix’s “Breaking Bad” movie quietly leaked online, the streaming giant issued the first teaser for “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie,” which will be released on October 11. Starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman, the “Breaking Bad” [...]

  • Samara Weaving and Adam Brody Big

    'Ready or Not': That Time Samara Weaving Hit Andie MacDowell in the Face

    Samara Weaving didn’t mean to hurt Andie MacDowell, but she did just that while they were rehearsing for their new horror dark comedy “Ready or Not.” “I hit Andie MacDowell in the face by accident,” Weaving says on this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast. “It was horrible. It was [...]

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • Tom Holland'Spider-Man: Homecoming' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Tom Holland Addresses Spider-Man’s Studio Divorce at D23: ‘I Love You 3000’

    British actor Tom Holland showed face on the main stage at D23 on Saturday, in the thick of an ugly studio battle over the rights to his iconic Marvel character Spider-Man. Headlines have been rolling in for days about the contentious battle for the cinematic future of the hero, after Sony Pictures became unwilling to [...]

  • Soul Movie

    Pixar's 'Soul' Announces Voice Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey to Star

    Disney debuted a first look at upcoming Pixar film “Soul” at the D23 expo in Anaheim, Calif. and announced its star-studded voice cast. “Soul” imagines that every person on earth comes pre-installed with a soul formed and perfected in a cosmic realm. Jamie Foxx will play a middle-school music teacher on earth who dreams of [...]

  • Emma Stone Variety Actors on Actors

    First Look at Emma Stone in Disney's Live-Action 'Cruella' Drops

    Emma Stone’s Cruella de Vil is significantly more punk rock than her animated counterpart. Stone appeared via video message to debut the first look of the titular character in Disney’s “Cruella” at D23 on Saturday, also revealing that it will take place in the punk rock era of the 1970s. In the first photo, Stone [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content