Lucha Mex­ico

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - — Jonathan Richards

LUCHA MEX­ICO, doc­u­men­tary, not rated, in Span­ish and English with sub­ti­tles, The Screen, 2.5 chiles

Pro­fes­sional wrestling in Mex­ico is de­scribed by one of the com­bat­ants as “a show sport spec­ta­cle. If it were real, real, real,” he adds, “fights would last five min­utes.”

There may be mo­ments when you would wish the same run­ning time for this movie, and yet the world whose cur­tain it lifts, and the men and women you will meet be­hind it, can be strangely com­pelling.

Fake? Sure. Chore­ographed? Def­i­nitely. And yet the thrills are real. The fame and hero-wor­ship are real. The pain, and the in­juries, and the blood, and the deaths are real.

Di­rec­tors Alex Ham­mond and Ian Markiewicz, norteam­er­i­canos, spent four years putting this doc­u­men­tary to­gether. A lot of it is filled with body slams and head locks and bal­letic dives that end in crunch­ing body slams — and, if you are an afi­cionado of the sport, none of this will seem ex­ces­sive. If you are not, pre­pare to suf­fer.

We spend most of our time with an elite cadre of the sport’s su­per­stars, the ones who have made it to the ma­jor leagues, the CMLL (Con­sejo Mun­dial de Lucha Li­bre). Our main guide is Shocker, an ex-U.S. Ma­rine with a wide stripe of bleach-blond hair, and a mouth full (some­times) of false teeth, who also goes by the name of 1000% Guapo. Oth­ers in­clude Fabian, Blue De­mon Jr. (his fa­ther, Blue De­mon, was a fa­mous wrestler and oc­ca­sional movie star), El Hijo Del Perro Aguayo (of the team Per­ros Del Mal), Jon “Strong­man” An­der­sen, Arkan­gel, and a midget named Ke­monito, who re­marks with fa­tal­is­tic philosophy, “It hurts, but you get over it.” On the distaff side, there’s Faby Apache and her archri­val Sexy Star, whom she caught sleep­ing with her hus­band. Many of them are sec­ond gen­er­a­tion luchadores, drawn into the game in the hopes of im­press­ing their fa­thers.

The wrestlers are di­vided into good guys (téc­ni­cos) and bad guys (rudos). Their roles are usu­ally de­ter­mined as they are learn­ing the ropes — their in­struc­tors ob­serve cer­tain phys­i­cal and char­ac­ter traits, and steer them in the ap­pro­pri­ate di­rec­tion.

De­spite its enor­mous pop­u­lar­ity, it is not a sport to get rich in. Many of the wrestlers wear col­or­ful masks; it’s one of the badges of the sport. Blue De­mon tells us he spends 18 hours a day in his mask. Get­ting your mask ripped off in a grudge match can be about as hu­mil­i­at­ing as it gets in the ring. Be­hind the scenes, the guys trudge along haul­ing their own suit­cases. They ad­mit to liv­ing a very lonely life. They’re very ac­ces­si­ble to their fans. They sign lots of au­to­graphs, and pose for pic­tures. They show us their scars, and the blood they have shed.

We’re told about a cou­ple of fa­tal in­juries from the past. And then it hap­pens here. One of the guys we’ve come to know gets killed in the ring. It’s pretty aw­ful.

It’s not all fake.

Who was that masked man?

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