By James Hancock November 10th, 2015
I can’t claim to be a connoisseur of professional wrestling nor am I an expert on Lucha Libre, but when it comes to behind-the-scenes documentaries on show business, I am a rabid consumer. In my experience listening to those who enthusiastically follow professional wrestling, one of the most moronic observations someone can make about their obsession is, ‘You know it’s fake right?’ Every hardcore fan knows that professional wrestling is pure theater and it is the nature of that theatricality which draws hordes of Mexican fans to watch Lucha Libre (free wrestling) on almost a daily basis in locations all over Mexico. Lucha Mexico is a compelling documentary that hurls the audience into world of Lucha Libre, an acrobatic, violent spectacle which promises fame, glory, pain, depression and sometimes death to those colorful characters who participate. Lucha Libre goes all the way back to 1863 and tradition is very much at the core of this unique form of entertainment, one where techniques, masks and personas are often passed down from father to son as we see with superstars like Blue Demon Jr. For someone like myself who is essentially a blank slate when it comes to Lucha Libre and its seemingly infinite number of ongoing narratives, I thoroughly enjoyed how the film spoon feeds the viewer all the vital information about the sport including the terminology, the various factions (Technico – the good guys, Rudo – the bad guys), historic venues, how the performers train, how they heal, and most importantly what it is like from day to day to be a wrestling superstar in Mexico. I can’t predict exactly how hardcore fans will react to the film but I am relatively certain they will be equally entertained and moved as I was by the in-depth look at these performers. If you’re planning on attending DOC NYC (Nov. 12-19), Lucha Mexico is absolutely a film you should consider seeing.
The heart and soul of this movie is the megastar Shocker who promotes himself as ‘1000% Guapo’. With no shortage of bravado, he is one of the few luchadores who performs without a mask. He comes from a wrestling family and has become one of the most recognizable stars of the sport, one who travels constantly and is happy to perform at any venue irrespective of the size and location. When he tears a tendon which separates his knee cap from the place on his leg where it would actually be useful, we share in his agony as his opponent continues beating on him mercilessly all while Shocker manages to stay in character until he has a chance to get backstage and assess the damage. Watching his rehabilitation over the following months is one of many brutal realities the film forces the audience to confront. Most athletes who aspire to be luchadores will never compete and even fewer will ever make a living. The passion for the sport is what drives the majority of the performers who continue to compete no matter the cost. Many of these athletes support their obsession by making their living outside the ring often running gyms and restaurants on the side. Even for those who become superstars, chemical dependency, suicide, and death (in and out of the ring) remain very real concerns. In spite of the dangers and frustrations associated with their dreams, most luchadores would have it no other way. One female luchador who goes by the name Sexy Star admits candidly that her love of the sport is the only thing preventing her from committing suicide. While there are many dark chapters in this documentary, for anyone who has ever had a dream of making a living in show business it is impossible not to be inspired by the stories showcased in this film. Fans of documentaries like Beyond the Mat (1999) will thoroughly enjoy this journey through one of Mexico’s most notorious subcultures. This is my first exposure to the work of directors Ian Markiewicz and Alexandria Hammand and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on their films in the future. Hopefully for those who do not live in the New York area, they will make Lucha Mexico available online in the near future. For now, check out the information below on where you can find the film in the upcoming DOC NYC.
Friday, November 13 at 9:45PM
(SVA Theatre, 333 West 23 Street, between 8/9 Ave.)
Wednesday, November 18 at 4:45PM
(Bow Tie Cinemas, 260 West 23 Street, between 7/8 Ave.)
Film Website: www.luchamexicofilm.com
For more information on DOC NYC please go to: www.docnyc.net
DOC NYC Link to buy tickets: http://www.docnyc.net/film/
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