Documentary Review: LUCHA MEXICO

My love of pro wrestling has spanned for nearly 30 years.  It has seen titles change, superstars come and go, legends born, streaks fall, moves created and a personal connection created every time I go to a live event, talk to other fans or watch on so many platforms.  In the mid-1990's one major wrestling federation allowed a new breed of wrestlers to perform here in the United States. "World Championship Wrestling" (WCW) was one of the first federations to show a new breed and a culture of high flyers.  Men walked to the ring and performed like angels, supervillains, superheros, flying blurs of color as well as larger life characters every week on my television screen.  Very few could describe the magic and beauty of this style of wrestling, but for me, commentator Mike Tenay would explain the mystery, wonder and talent of these luchadores who came from Mexican families and cities carrying a tradition, passion, talent for a new chapter in American pro wrestling lore. 

For these men and women, this was life and to be a performer meant more than life itself.  Names like Psicosis, La Parka, Rey Mysterio, Eddie and Chavo Guerrero, Hector Garza, Super Calo, Juventud Guerrera, Konnan and more would come out in colorful, symbolic and historic masks as well as costumes into the WCW ring.  These luchadores...these warriors who had personality, incredible talent and could command a crowd every event never revealed who they were behind the mask as it was a part of their very soul.  Always putting on a great showcase of high flying as well as mat wrestling superiority, they entertained the masses with style, character and a love so deep that it consumed them and connected to crowds across the world and home in Mexico.  This trend of luchadores has been reinvigorated here in the last few years by the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and the wrestling show "Lucha Underground" on the "El Rey" network. We see it now returning for new eyes and imaginations to savior lucha libre wrestling that has been a countries pulse, blood, culture and heart for decades south of the border. 

However, as amazing as it looks, sounds and feels, there is a reality to it...an honesty in the code of the luchador and how lives are lead and loss in the ring.  There is a respect and a livelihood that extends beyond the understanding of fans and viewers.  The documentary LUCHA MEXICO captures every angle of that.  Planned, written, produced, shot and directed by filmmakers Ian Markiewicz and Alex Hammond, this documentary offers a very honest, heartfelt and heavy side to the tradition of Mexican wrestling both in and out of the ring. LUCHA MEXICO follows the wrestling federations and training facilities of "Lucha Libre Worldwide AAA" and "CWLL De Lucha Libre" in the deep heart of Mexico.  Creating a story that opens up with the large pan shots of the city and the fans, the directors also showcase a variety of arenas and we get to meet the wide range of personalities from both promotions. The documentary gives each wrestling promotion a pretty balanced amount of exposure that includes behind the scenes interactions, arena set up, promotion pieces and live action shows; however, LUCHA MEXICO focuses specifically on a handful of very in depth storylines with selected performers from both Mexico and in the United States.  

Voices are given to different generations, personalities and genders of Mexican luchadores in the documentary like El Hijo Del Perro Aguayo, Sexy Star, Fabian, The Blue Demon Jr., US wrestler John Strongman as well as the legend Shocker to name a handful.  Each of the major performers have interweaving as well as very distinctive narratives that welcome you to the sobering reality of what these performers do almost every night and the lives they live as a part of it.  Shocker's main narrative in particular is a very genuine, exciting, sincere and connecting story as we see how Jair Soria Reyna's, aka Shocker, family, health, personal life and character were created through experience, chance and the reality of his future in the sport. 

Beyond the individual stories and journey each performer has taken to the main stage, you also learn about the heritage and culture that has such power and effect on the entire country and throughout the world.  LUCHA MEXICO is more than a very emotional and entertaining piece, both filmmakers and crew created an educational experience for us to learn the importance of these wrestlers masks, costumes, and characters that walk down the ramp.  Both filmmakers, especially for me, did an outstanding job of giving both the traditionally masked luchadores as well as the non-masked equal light and darkness to their stories.  This is also presented with a foundation of tremendous and chaotic event footage, weaved interviews and travel footage that in the final presentation showcases their stories as well as their talent in matches resulting in a celebration of a culture and country that has dealt with tragedies on many levels.  LUCHA MEXICO is a wonderfully constructed piece of film with all the heart and soul that isn't typically seen for the most part with pro wrestling.  It bears a narrative as vulnerable, real, powerful and full as those whose legacy and lives are out int he ring every night to entertain fans of all generations.  Whether you are a major wrestling fan or just diving into the ring, LUCHA MEXICO pulls no punches in sports entertainment along with a story that will touch and create a buzz like those who are a part of it.  

Jay Kay @HorrorHappensFF

LUCHA MEXICO will be in select theaters in NY/LA/Major Cities and on VOD July 15