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By Merle Bertrand | March 24, 2000

I don’t really know how much we need another unrealistic, melodramatic boxing movie — “Rocky II-V” pretty much filled our quota — but I do know that the faltering, scandal-tainted sport itself could sure use a couple dozen other fighters like the “Boxing Ortegas.” Arturo Ortega (Jimmy Smits) was clawing his way to a title bout a quarter of a century ago until a sleazy manager prematurely matched him up against a far superior opponent. While the manager got the money and ran, Arturo was obliterated and never returned to form. Now he drives his three boxing sons whom all follow in their father’s footsteps, craving his approval even while simultaneously striving to escape from his domineering shadow in drastically different ways. Jimmy (Clifton Gonzalez Gonzalez) rebels the most blatantly, getting his title shot only after dabbling in drugs and consistently taking unnecessary punishment in the ring when he deliberately ignores Arturo’s teachings. Clean cut and headstrong, Sonny (real-life Golden Gloves champ Jon Seda), is jealous of Jimmy. Not understanding Arturo’s wise and Machiavellian scheme for his rise to the top, Sonny also defies his father, although more subtly, by taking a bride and enlisting new management. Only Johnny (Ernesto Hernandez), the most naturally gifted of the bunch and a chip off the ol’ block, never really rebels. In fact, it’s his cocky defense of Arturo that leads to a tragedy which pulls the family together again. Is “The Price of Glory” overwrought, manipulative, melodramatic, and as a predictable as a WWF match? You betcha. That doesn’t mean this commendable family drama from Carlos Avila is not entertaining, however. Although the boxing scenes resemble real boxing about as much as anything you’ll see in a titanium-jawed “Rocky” film, they are, nonetheless, up-close, well-staged and genuinely exciting. More interesting, however, are the sprinkled coachings Smits’ Arturo imparts upon his young charges. These tactical tidbits remind us that boxing, however brutal, is indeed a sweet science; that there’s far more to it than just two guys beatin’ the snot out of each other. Similarly intriguing are the informed political schemings and deal making between Arturo, slimy fight promoter Mr. Everson (Ron Perlman) and his grubby henchman Pepe (Paul Rodriguez) in Phil Berger’s script. In spite of its violent nature, “The Price of Glory,” is ultimately an uplifting and family-affirming, if blatantly heart-tugging, film.

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