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'Price of Glory'

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 31, 2000


    'Price of Glory' Jimmy Smits (right) plays a former boxer in "Price of Glory." (New Line)
"Price of Glory," a plodding boxing drama with Jimmy Smits, doesn't telegraph its punches, it faxes them in. Struggle as he might, Smits can't wrench free of this tangle of cliches. The only thing that distinguishes it from similar sagas is its Hispanic accent.

Smits flails away at the thankless role of Arturo Ortega, an aspiring world champion whose career was clobbered by a promoter. Now in his thirties, Arturo has become the Mommie Dearest of prepubescent pugilism. He's determined to turn at least one of his three sons, preferably all, into the champ he never got to be. And if that means cursing them out and slamming them against the wall from time to time, that's the ropes.

Arturo's eldest son (Jon Seda) possesses championship potential and suffers far less than his middle son (Clifton Collins Jr.). As the least promising of the three, he absorbs most of his father's abuse. However, even the youngest child (Ernesto Hernandez), his father's favorite, eventually suffers the tragic consequences of his father's tough love.

When a powerful promoter (Ron Perlman) offers to sign all three young men, the mule-headed Arturo refuses the offer because he wants to do it himself. His kids go along with him at first, but gradually realize that they're too old to be taking orders from Poppy. Can this family crisis be resolved? Not without a fight, it can't.

Like every boxing movie that ever was, "Price of Glory" ends with a long and punishing bout, as always, in Vegas. Not that Carlos Avila, a debuting director, makes much use of the harsh glamour of the Disney World of gambling. He explores little that goes on outside the ring, not that much does in this overly earnest, repetitious first screenplay by Phil Berger. As a former boxing reporter who worked on the autobiographies of Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson, Berger knows all the moves. But when it comes to telling an inventive story or creating fresh characters, he doesn't go the distance. Hell, he's kissing canvas in Round 1.

PRICE OF GLORY (113 minutes, at area theaters) is rated PG-13 for profanity, violence and adult themes.


© Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company

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