Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Lucha Mí, Apuesto Luchador
Lately I have become enamored of Mexican lucha films, at least the ones I can find through Netflix, in particular the ones of the mid sixties to early seventies when heartthrob Jorge Rivero squeezed into tights to fight alongside the legendary masked Santo in Operacion 67 and El Tesoro de Moctezuma and, on his own, playing wrestling twins (by means of execrable special effects) in Los Leones del Ring.
The heyday of lucha films was 1952 to 1976, and Rivero showed up around the time that James Bond movies were at their zenith, so he was lucha libre's answer to Sean Connery. (And it's a very nice answer, too.)
I know enough Spanish to order burritos, with a dictionary in hand, so the nuances of plot are lost on me since most of the DVDs of these movies do not have English subtitles. Fortunately, there are few nuances, and the wrestling scenes require no subtitles. The bad guys are the ones pulling hair, and sometimes the number-one villain wears a black patent-leather mask to distinguish himself from white-mask-wearing Santo. Half of Rivero's work in the ring is performed by a badly matched stand-in (about 40 pounds heavier, with no hair on his chest), but the actor does enough roughhouse on his own for the scenes to be sexy.
I have said before that I think Hollywood should make some 21st-century lucha films--with state-of-the-art photographic techniques, including 3-D, and the likes of Bradley Cooper, Chris Evans, and James Franco sweating under the hot lights in skimpy lycra briefs and laced-up boots (or barefoot). I don't mean kitchen-sink dramas like The Wrestler either (which I love, too), but colorful, noisy vulgarities with limp-wristed, lisping mafiosos and high-flying Aztec mummies.