Theatrical spectacle and brute athleticism crash head on in Loco Fighters, Nacho Cabana's captivating documentary that rips the colourful mask off the high-flying world of Mexican lucha libre.
Since its introduction in the early 1930s, lucha libre, or "free wrestling," has become one of the most popular spectator sports in Mexico. Following the sport from the barrios' makeshift rings to the title-card matches played out at the hallowed Arena Mexico, Loco Fighters takes viewers inside the homes and private lives of the sport's biggest and brightest luchadores, including Blue Demon Jr., Tinieblas and Huracán Ramírez. It clearly demonstrates the fundamental differences between Mexican wrestling and the steroid-soaked soap operatics of the American circuit, and explains the concealing face masks, head-shaving humiliations and long-standing family dynasties that have helped make it a larger-than-life form of street theatre for the underprivileged working classes.
Often hiding their true identities even to their own families, many wrestlers take their masked personae beyond the bloodstained turnbuckles by championing social justice, affordable housing and other community issues, becoming anonymous folk heroes in the process. Such is the case with one of the film's most engaging interviewees, Fray Tormenta, a Mexican wrestling priest who began competing as a luchador to raise badly needed funding for his orphanage, and later served as the inspiration for Jared Hess' comedy Nacho Libre. The film also takes a comprehensive look at all facets of the modern lucha scene, from the bloody, barbed-wire obsessed extreme league to "minis, midget wrestlers who are often more acrobatic than their full-sized counterparts. The film also features Dark Angel, a female luchadora originally from Winnipeg who discusses her ongoing goal of changing the perceptions of gender in wrestling by emphasizing athleticism over tight-fitting spandex outfits.
An excellent introduction to the unique world of Mexican wrestling, Loco Fighters is a fascinating documentary that reveals why lucha libre continues to attract a rabid fan base devoted to the thrilling aerial acrobatics of their mysterious masked heroes.
Director: Nacho Cabana
Screenplay: Nacho Cabana
Cast: Blue Demon Jr.
Producers: Adolfo Blanco, José María Irisarri, Nacho Cabana
Distributor: Notro Films