It's a shame "Price of Glory" is such an elementary piece of utterly predictable, movie-of-the-week style filmmaking, because this boxing-themed, strife-defeating family drama certainly has its heart in the right place.
A throwback to the kind of medicinal matinee movies made for Sunday afternoon outings with the whole family, this Jimmy Smits vehicle is a sincere -- if sanctimonious -- affair about a former, failed middleweight contender living vicariously through his three sons, bruisers-in-training all.
A proud but temperamental, assembly-line union man with a do-it-yourself training ring in his back yard, Smits is a stern daddy who drives his boys hard. His beautiful wife with shampoo commercial hair (Maria Del Mar) wants the boys to go to college, but Pop thinks they could all be champs, and he's determined to manage each of them to a title.
Smits plays it earnest as honorable Arturo Ortega, but he can't escape the fact that this is a plainly platitudinous role in a completely common movie.
All adorable at the Silver Gloves age early in the movie, his sons become single-trait caricatures in their teens as the film moves into its second act. There's Sonny (Jon Seda), the eldest who is more interested in marrying his sweetheart than in his father's dreams. There's Jimmy (Clifton Collins, Jr.), the jealous, troubled middle son, heartbroken by his father's favoritism. And there's Johnny (Ernesto Hernandez), the hot-headed chosen son who has a gift in the ring and stand the best shot of fulfilling his dad's aspirations.
Naturally, a rift must form in the family, estranging the somewhat misguided father and at least one son. Naturally, there's a money-grubbing, big-time promoter (Ron Perlman) lingering in the shadows, aiming to seduce any fighting Ortega that strays from the fold. Naturally, tragedy must strike in order to pull the clan back together in time to train for The Big Fight. Naturally, said fight one of those only-in-the-movies boxing matches in which 200 punches are thrown per round and 198 of them make contact.
Directed with feeling and attempted integrity by rookie filmmaker Carlos Avila, "Price of Glory" doesn't pull any punches in its first few reels, giving the cast members something fairly substantial to sink their teeth into until it begins degrading into a sorry soap opera after the half way mark. That's just about the time it becomes clear that the supporting characters (mainly Perlman and stand-up comic Paul Rodriguez as his very corrupt lieutenant) are infinitely more interesting than the primary players.
It's a passable practice picture for a first-time director and an actor trying to break out of his television shackles. But it's not anything worth paying money to see.
Run time: 118 mins
In Theaters: Friday 31st March 2000
Distributed by: New Line Home Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 33%
Fresh: 20 Rotten: 40
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: Carlos Avila