×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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

  • Constance Wu

    Will Constance Wu Ever Watch 'Hustlers'?

    Despite her leading role, Constance Wu has never seen “Hustlers” and, spoiler alert, it’s very unlikely that she will. Wu explained why she doesn’t want to watch the film to Mindy Kaling (“Late Night”) during a conversation for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” “This is crazy,” Kaling said in the beginning of the interview. “I [...]

  • Ford v Ferrari

    'Ford v Ferrari' Outmatches 'Charlie's Angels' at International Box Office

    Disney and 20th Century Fox’s “Ford v Ferrari” sped ahead of fellow new release, Sony’s “Charlie’s Angels,” at the international box office. Director James Mangold’s racing drama collected $21.4 million from 41 foreign markets, representing 67% of its overseas rollout. “Ford v Ferrari” also kicked off with $31 million in North America, bringing its global [...]

  • Mindy Kaling Constance Wu

    Mindy Kaling, Constance Wu on Working With Women Directors: 'Nothing Felt Exploitative'

    Constance Wu (“Hustlers”) and Mindy Kaling (“Late Night”) discussed the importance of women directors during a conversation for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” Kaling began the interview by acknowledging how having female directors on “Hustlers” and “Late Night” benefited the films. “[‘Hustlers’ director Lorene Scafaria] doesn’t come from a place of, ‘Oh, let’s humanize this [...]

  • Mindy Kaling Actors on Actors

    Why Mindy Kaling Turned to Social Media to Find the Lead of Her Netflix Series

    Constance Wu (“Hustlers”) and Mindy Kaling (“Late Night”) explained how the internet helped expand the casting pool for their projects during a conversation for “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors.” Wu began the interview: “When I did ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and they were looking for actors, it was crazy how many people said, ‘Well, there are [...]

  • Christian Bale and Matt Damon in

    Box Office: 'Ford v Ferrari' Races to First Place, 'Charlie's Angels' Collapses

    “Ford v Ferrari” left its box office competitors in the dust as the historical sports drama from Disney and 20th Century Fox sped its way to $31 million in North America. Directed by James Mangold and starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon, “Ford v Ferrari” debuted ahead of expectations thanks to strong word-of-mouth from moviegoers. [...]

  • In ‘Motherless Brooklyn,’ Edward Norton Takes

    In 'Motherless Brooklyn,' Edward Norton Takes on Timeless Power Struggles

    In Edward Norton’s “Motherless Brooklyn,” the ‘50s-set New York noir detective story he produced, directed, wrote and stars in, politics are never far from the surface. But they’re not the obvious parallels to any racist autocrats from New York of modern times, but instead focus on more timeless politics – the way disabled people and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content