Case Number 15807: Small Claims Court

EL ALAMBRISTA: THE FENCE JUMPER

BrinkDVD // 2008 // 87 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 27th, 2009

The Charge

El immagrante justiciero! (Their words.)

The Case

El Alambrista -- he's just trying to help his family. When the young, wannabe luchedore is forced to deal with the death of his father, he decides to hop the border and see what's cooking for jobs in the United States. His family needs a breadwinner and it falls to Alambrista to generate the pesos. Finding himself a scumbag coyote -- who he eventually has to flatten in the desert for trying to rob everyone -- Alambrista successfully infiltrates the U.S. and quickly scores a job working for a corrupt rancher.

As he scrapes together cash to send back to his mother, Alambrista is recruited by the local wrestling promoter and given a shot at his dream: to become a renowned force in the ring. No sooner than he dons his new awesome mask does he gain the attention of the local mob, coincidentally staffed by fellow Luchedores. Apparently, the gangsters are running an illicit cockfighting ring, or something. It will fall to Alambrista to do all of the following: a) secure fair wages for the work he and his friends have done for the rancher, b) rescue his friend's kids from the evil cockfighting syndicate heads, c) continue to provide for his family back in Mexico, d) elude the ever-prying eyes of the Border Patrol and, e) dominate in the wrestling ring.

Weird movie. I've had relative success in the past with these Mexican wrestler movies (Enter Zombie King), and harbored some moderately high hopes for El Alambrista. They were, alas, not fulfilled. Director Alfonso Casaus opted for a more serious film, seeking to explore the nuances of immigration issues and ranching disputes. There is almost zero humor here, save for a memorable roid-raging rooster attack at the end. On the surface, dudes walking around discussing immigration policy while wearing wrestler masks might seem amusing, but in El Alambrista the entertainment value is sapped and replaced with a meandering plot about a guy who wants to clothesline dudes and fight back against Southern racist white boys while negotiating the intricacies of deportation.

If you're a viewer who tends towards the open-borders brand of immigration policy, the politics of El Alambrista will probably suit you. Our hero mugs a Border Patrol agent, hops the fence (hence his nickname "The Fence Jumper"), reels off a "We're all God's children" monologue that could have been cribbed from John McCain's policy paper, and constantly laments about being treated like animals by the ranchers. It's all laid on pretty thick and, to me, was preachy, bordering on irritating -- no pun intended. To be fair, Alambrista teams up with a Border Patrol agent at the end and the main bad guys are evil luchedores, so it doesn't completely come across as a production of La Raza Studios.

The wrestling action is hit-and-miss. The producers put on some matches to film and those are fairly entertaining, but the in-movie action leaves much to be desired on the technique front.

Video (1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen) is okay, clear enough for the homegrown digital stock it was shot on and the stereo audio track (Spanish with English subtitles) is clean. Extras: a director's commentary, gag reel and a wrestling match between "Yako" and "Pequeno Guerrero."

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Scales of Justice
Judgment: 65

Perp Profile
Studio: BrinkDVD
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)

Subtitles:
* English

Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Commentary
* Gag Reel
* Bonus Wrestling Footage

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt1344311/combined