Martial arts action star Hector Echavarria earns major redemption points with his latest mixed martial arts movie, a tale of a fighter struggling with life and his one shot at making things right.
Hector Chavez is a mixed martial arts fighter who fights in underground cage fights to make ends meet. He and wife Gia have not been able to work in months and their young son Martin is suffering from a heart condition. Despite attempts to find work, the family still struggles and Hector finds fighting is the only way out for now. However, thanks to the help of longtime friend Ian, an opportunity arises for Hector.
Ultimate Xtreme Combat president John Stone is looking for a new opponent for his world heavyweight champion, Cage Fury. Seeing Hector on the Internet, he thinks Hector could bring in not only money, but be a hero for the Latino viewers of the sport. Hector is offered $100,000 to face Fury in the ring for the title. Despite Gia’s reservations, Hector accepts the fight and finds a trainer in his older brother, Father Jose. However, as he prepares for the fight, Hector finds himself not only at odds with his wife over the fight, but a local gang boss, Mondo begins to stir up trouble, resulting in some dire consequences. Will Hector be able to withstand all the obstacles in time for the fight?
Hector Echavarria came up with the story and directed this action-drama and compared to his previous efforts, Never Surrender, Death Warrior, and Unrivaled, his latest is truly the best of his MMA films. While some of the previous films suffered from an abundance of Cinemax late night fare mixed in with the MMA, here, he tones that down a lot and really focuses on the story, which is a major asset in action films.
Echavarria does quite well as the titular Chavez, a man who was raised on fighting. A former kickboxing champion from Mexico (Echavarria is actually Argentinian), he learned grappling and became a mixed martial arts fighter. With his family struggling due to loss of jobs and the economy, he will do anything to provide for his family. In addition, we learn about why Hector fights so hard both literally and figuratively in and out of the cage and it helps because it gives the viewer a sense of who Hector really is.
The supporting cast does quite well here. Sadie Katz plays wife Gia as someone who goes through the same struggle and even fights back when a job opportunity leads to her fending herself against a bad supervisor. Patrick Kilpatrick doesn’t exactly play a bad guy here, but more of a businessman who thinks the fight will be a breeze and learns that even in business, always expect the unexpected. Danny Trejo plays the gang boss who makes serious trouble for Hector and it all starts when Hector constantly sees him after the cage fights and mentions what his right hand man thinks of him. James Russo has an extended cameo as the scummy underground fight promoter who makes a promise only to constantly ripoff Hector for his own benefit. Steven Bauer does well as Hector’s elder brother, a priest who has street smarts and offers to be Hector’s trainer for the big fight. Sporting a look much different from prior films, MMA fighter Heath “The Crazy Texas Horse” Herring sports a shaggier look compared to his mohawk-sporting days, but still has the tenacity to play an arrogant cage champion.
Serving as stunt and fight coordinator is Echavarria’s son, Hector Jr. and the fights aren’t too bad. The film starts with Hector in the cage taking on a massive opponent who drives him literally through the cage while Hector has him in the triangle choke hold. Echavarria, who is a pretty good kicking expert as well, gets to do some of his kicks, but uses more MMA here with grappling, low kicks, and ground and pounds. However, he does put his kickboxing skills to good use when necessary. Even the final fight against Herring lasts a fairly good amount of time with Chavez looking close to Rocky Balboa by the end of the fight.
Hector Echavarria earned major redemption points with Chavez: Cage of FGlory. Instead of adding some unnecessary Cinemax late night fare, he focuses here on the story of a struggling fighter who is given a chance to redeem himself and help his family, and will do what it takes to overcome the odds to ultimately not help his family, but help himself as well. Worth at least a rental.
WFG RATING: B+
A Destiny Entertainment Productions film. Director: Hector Echavarria. Producers: Pablo Garcia, Joel M. Gonzales, Patrick Kilpatrick, Paula Moreno, Travis Murray, Jennifer Oguzie, and Ken Schwenker. Writer: Hector Echavarria. Cinematography: Seo Mutarevic. Editing: Eamon Glennon.
Cast: Hector Echavarria, Sadie Katz, Liam Finnegan-Smith, Patrick Kilpatrick, Steven Bauer, Danny Trejo, Heath Herring, James Russo, Robert Miano, Josh Samson.