by GorDoom

Due to my father's job, the Ol' Spit Bucket live in Mexico from 1956 to '62. Unlike in the U.S., boxing is a major sport, on a comparative par with the NBA, or NFL, throughout Mexico & all of Latin America.

As a kid growing up in Mexico, Lil' Bucket, didn't know who Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays were, but I sure knew who fighters like, Jose "Toluco" Lopez, "Raton" Macias, Jose Becerra, Ricardo "Pajarito" Moreno & Raymundo "Battling" Torres were ...

I'm sure most of my CBZ readers have never heard of these guys, but they were all, especially world bantamweight champion, Jose Becerra, idolised as major national sports heroes. Becerra in his day was as popular in Mexico, as Chavez was at his peak ...

But I digress ... All of the above was to illustrate what a thrill it was to view a video of the new documentary feature, The Latin Legends.

It brought back a lot of great memories to see the six great champions featured in this documentary film: Kid Gavilan, Carlos Ortiz, Roberto Duran, Alexis Arguello, Salvador Sanchez & Julio Cezar Chavez.

Viewing the great accompanying fight clips it clearly shows that Gavilan was a marvel of speed, guts, & flash/dash showmanship ... Ortiz, the perfect fighting machine, a lighter weight Joe Louis ... Duran, what can you say? To have seen Duran in his prime, was a wonderland of atavistic mayhem ... Arguello, the elegant matador, the impeccable gentleman warrior ... Sanchez, whose great career was a Shakespearean barrio tragedy ... Chavez, the "Lion Of Culiacan" who stormed through three divisions in the 80's & 90's.

The choice of actor/activist, Edward James Olmos, as host & narrator was an inspired one. The thoughtful, dignified way in which he has always carried himself, brings a serious but empathetic approach to the narrative.

If your an NFL films fan, it's obvious that Olmos spent some time researching the "part", by closely scrutinising Steve Sabol's approach to football documentaries. He's got Sabol nailed down to the thoughtful downward glances before pronouncing another deep thought ...

This is by no means meant as a criticism of Olmos, who is a fine actor, it's was just obvious to me, the research & preparation he undertook before filming.

The narrative & the interviews with the fighters were very effective, especially so for American viewers, were those of the English speaking Ortiz & Arguello. I found Ortiz, who was one of my childhood hero's, rugged New Yorican dignity, to be very moving ...

Also, it was a very pleasant surprise, that for once the Spanish to English translations were right on the money.

Like the recent excellent boxing documentaries on HBO, I realise this is meant to tell an evocative story of what obstacles these Hispanic fighters had to overcome, in order to escape their grim environments & become great champions.

That's why it's not just career highlight films for the hard core fan. Even the musical score by Bebu Silvetti, is very well done & atmospheric. Instead of getting in the way, the music really enhances the viewing experience & at times, as in the opening sequence beautifully in synch with the action ... At other times, as in the narrative by Arguello, it is subtle, yet it enriches the story being told.

While this documentary, produced, written & directed by Lee Librado, is one of the best boxing documentaries I've ever seen, I do have three minor quibbles ...

While all of the fight clips show are terrific, there are a few glaring omissions. Instead of clips of Gavilan - Robinson & clips of Duran - Leonard ll & Duran vs. Davey Moore & Iran Barkley the use of still photos is irksome.

Director Librado, almost makes up for it with the rarely seen Aaron Pryor - Alexis Arguello ll fight. But signature career fights like the ones Duran was involved with absolutely need the video to be properly shown...

Another minor irritant is the inclusion of Jose Sulaiman in the documentary. Even when he is being sincere & telling the truth about Hispanic boxers you get the feeling he spewing lies ... While I understand his inclusion in the film - he is after all the president of the Mexico City based World Boxing council. I would have preferred a whole lot less of Jose & a lot more fight clips ...

My only other nit pick about the film is it's somewhat disjointed sequencing. Librado was trying to show the fighters in chronological order, but at times he would jump back & forth between the fighters & it interrupted the narrative flow. I would have preferred the sequential order to be like HBO's, Boxing's Little Giant's, documentary. HBO handled each fighter's bio in a linear sequential order. I find that approach less confusing & more satisfying as you get the whole story of the fighter in a clearer & more logical manner.

As I said, these are all relatively minor quibbles & The Bucket ain't no film critic - but as a fight fan I gotta give this a rousing two gloves up!!!


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11.17.97 [Return to Top]