El Coyote (2020)

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A man must return to his past to rescue his son in this indie action thriller that starts a rivalry between two major factions.

Deep in the Arizona desert near the Mexican border, the Maturato Drug Cartel have been wreaking havoc, killing those who double-cross them in brutal fashion. When ICE agents attempt to stop the cartel, they are all but killed with the exception of young Jax Spencer. Jax’s father Stone is a restauranteur who is having enough problems as it is as there had been total tension between himself and Jax, as well as his marriage falling apart.

When Stone learns of what has happened, the Maturato cartel makes him an offer. If Stone agrees to help them with a shipment in Mexico, they will release Jax. However, the cartel will soon learn they have made the biggest mistake of their lives. Stone is actually a former Italian mobster who was known as “The Butcher”. Having gone into witness protection, Stone’s attempt at a normal life has now been threatened on a whole new level. Forced to revert back to his old days, Stone is set to rescue his son one way or another, but he can’t do it again. He’s going to need some old friends from New York to help him.

There have been films about the Italian mafia. Of course, these include some classics like The Godfather, GoodFellas, Casino, and even the recent The Irishman. There have been films involving drug cartels, such as Scarface and countless others. However, what if these two power factions were to cross paths and what could happen? An alliance? Fuhgeddaboutit! Writer/director Jeffrey Nicholson came up with the idea of a power rivalry between the two factions but revolve around a man in the former forced to go back to his violent past for family.

Michael Saquella, who also produced the film, is great as Stone Spencer, an Italian-American restauranteur who has enough problems on his hands when he learns his son is kidnapped. We don’t get much on his backstory and his past until well into the end of the second act of the film. However, it is quite interesting to see him as a man who finds himself going through so much and finding his work as a restauranteur his only outlet for happiness. That is, until he’s forced into the situation that will eventually make him reveal his true identity and go back to his violent past.

J.C. Marquez Pulita is insane as cartel underboss Miguel, whose temper is so hot that he doesn’t care about anything as long as he gets what he wants. Meanwhile, his number one man is just as hot-tempered and he comes in the form of the heavily-tattooed Carlos, played by Michael Ochotorena. We see Carlos in a very brief mode of comic relief in the film’s opening scene, where he confronts two goons who double-crossed him before doing the unthinkable that leads to the opening credits. Paul J. Lucero’s Jax is an interesting figure because we know he’s an ICE agent and the son of our hero here, but he has resentment towards his father as seen in a flashback scene that explains their relationship.

The third act is where we get to see some of the old guard joining Spencer on his mission to rescue his son. Robert Costanzo, a familiar face to many including those who have seen Undisputed III: Redemption as Turbo’s manager, is Stone’s buddy Giovanni while John Capodice, who played the loudmouth Aguado in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective also brings that old school mafia mindset as Don Rossi. The long awaited battle between the factions has some very interesting moments and is quite fun to watch.

El Coyote may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it does bring quite an interesting idea: a rivalry between two powerful factions with a man forced to relive his past in order to protect his family. Those who love mafia and cartel films may want to see this, even if just once.

WFG RATING: B+

Random Media presents a Cactus Blue Entertainment production. Director: Jeffrey Nicholson. Producers: Michael Saquella and Lenny Mesi. Writer: Jeffrey Nicholson. Cinematography: Bobby Bragg. Editing: John P.M. Higgins.

Cast: Michael Saquella, Robert Constanzo, John Capodice, Kristin Datillo, Michael Ochotorena, J.C. Marquez Pulita, Michaela Dean, Jay Montalco, Paul J. Lucero, Deerek Solorsano, Joe Ricci, Dusty Corner.

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