An exciting inside look at the stars of Lucha Libre, Mexico’s distinctly colorful brand of professional wrestling, where flesh and blood Superheroes have performed for generations of fans.
Clad in in colorful costumes and spewing even more colorful insults, Mexican luchadores may be recognized by many Americans as something akin to professional wrestling in the United States, which falls under the banner of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). However, while the WWE is generally recognized as scripted entertainment, many Mexicans fans follow Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL, the top tier lucha federation) as a professional sport. Some fans even wear the iconic, bright masks to matches the way that fans of other sports might proudly be dressed in their favorite athlete’s jersey.
Luchadores in Mexico are celebrities, and the elite ones are able to enjoy the fruits of that success. “Lucha Mexico” portrays two sides of the luchador experience: the glorious one, with expensive cars and tailored clothes, and the one most people don’t think about, which consists of long hours at the gym and a punishing toll on the body. And most wrestlers have a very difficult road to the “major leagues,” as CMLL is once referred to in the film. One luchador had to work as a Chippendales dancer for eight years in between wrestling stints to support himself and work his way back into the ring. Life as a luchador is difficult to achieve and even harder to maintain, and “Lucha Mexico” makes sure you know it.
This film is a fascinating look behind the scenes of what is arguably one of the world’s most popular sports, but one that most non-Mexicans know very little about. I was expecting a light-hearted, silly documentary, but “Lucha Mexico” goes far beyond that. I found myself deeply empathizing with the wrestlers, and really, who can’t? They’re talented people working hard to achieve their dreams, yet having to cope again and again with the harshness that life can sometimes bring. Sport fan or no, this is something that everyone can identify with.
Stylistically, “Lucha Mexico” isn’t quite at the level of popular sports documentaries such as the ESPN “30 for 30” series. There isn’t much polish to it, but ultimately, that adds to the authenticity. Wrestling is a sport that perhaps more than any other has amateur fans try to emulate the moves of their favorite wrestlers in YouTube videos. It is appropriate, then, that this documentary has a bit more of a homemade and intimate feel than other films about better know sports.
If you want to learn more about lucha libre, or even just find some compelling people to root for and support, you could do much worse than “Lucha Mexico.” If nothing else, it is enjoyable to watch people hone their craft and succeed at it. It’s a basic human desire, whether you are a writer, engineer, businessperson, plumber, or professional wrestler. “Lucha Mexico” opens the door to a fascinating world that will surely suck the viewer in and leave them captivated.
“Lucha Mexico” recently had its U.S. premiere at the 2015 DOC NYC