Lionsgate // 2009 // 98 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Franck Tabouring (Retired) // April 8th, 2010
Some dreams are worth fighting for...
After kicking the ball and wrestling with a bunch of big screen drama in the Goal! movies, Kuno Becker moves from soccer to boxing in From Mexico With Love, Jimmy Nickerson's independent sports drama that follows the story of a hardworking Mexican migrant who stops at nothing to reach for his dreams and help those in need. What sounds like an inspirational journey eventually turns out to be a predictable experience filled with moments that seem way too familiar to fully enjoy.
From Mexico With Love clearly boasts good intentions, but the campiness of the story line and the feeling of déjà vu the film instigates makes it impossible to fully immerse yourself into Nickerson's world and take its main characters seriously. The movie is by no means boring, but the melodramatic nature of the material pretty much eliminates every chance for compelling innovation and an overall memorable experience.
Becker plays Hector, a poor farmworker from Mexico who relies heavily on his job at a big Texas farm run by a racist rancher (Stephen Lang, Avatar). All Hector is worried about is being able to afford medicine for his ailing mother, and he's doing everything he can to pull through. Hector is also a passionate fighter, so when he's not out working his butt off on the field, he's trying to earn some moolah inside the ring.
When his job is in peril and his mother gets worse, Hector is faced with crucial decisions. Luckily for him, he runs into Billy (Bruce McGill, W.), a boxing trainer who agrees to take him under his wing and teach him a valuable thing or two about how to fight properly. Next thing you know, Hector is gearing up for the ultimate fight against his farm boss' obnoxious son, who holds the reputation as best boxer in town.
I bet you'll find it very easy to guess where this is headed from here. Comparisons to films such as Rocky are inevitable, and From Mexico With Love doesn't bring anything new to the genre. We get to see Hector struggle and we get to see him fight, but that's all there is to discover. The script aims for something higher, but somehow never conveys its messages in a compelling way.
Instead, we are told over and over that boxing is all about thinking. Sure, it's a good tip for those who don't know much about how the sport works, but the training sequences quickly become repetitive, and the characters just keep recycling the same dialogue. All the melodramatic scenes seem a lot more cheesier than realistic, and the actions, behaviors, and attitudes of the lead characters often turn out to be questionable.
From Mexico With Love boasts a certain entertainment value that's hard to ignore, but lacks punch and originality to boost it from mediocre to good. It works because the actors do their best with the material they're supplied with, and that's not always an easy thing to accomplish. Becker plays the same guy he usually plays, but he does that fairly well. McGill says the same thing in each scene, but his presence definitely helps the film in a positive way. Also delivering a solid job is Steven Bauer in the role of Tito, one of Hector's good friends.
Lionsgate offers a crisp audio transfer and a solid 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation with a clean, sharp image and interesting colors. You won't find any bonus features on the disc, but the lack of extras didn't bother me at all.
From Mexico With Love is not the disaster it could've been. Although the filmmakers' efforts can be appreciated, there is so much more they could've done with this story. The movie just feels too flat to leave a lasting impression, and that's simply not good enough for a boxing flick.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13