Sangre en Nueva York [Blood in New York] (MVS Film Corp., 1972) Exec Prod: Eddie (El Valentino); Prod: Luis Rojas; Assoc Prod: Pedro Marcos; Dir: José Antonio Torres; Adapt-Additional Dialogue: José Antonio Torres; Re-Adapt: Tony Montalvo Reuter; Story: Edwin Marcial; Idea: Luis Rojas; Photo: José Luis Colón; Music: Tomás Valentino; Prod Chief: Wilfredo Rosa; Prod Mgr: Héctor Alvarez; Film Ed: José Antonio Torres, Marta Viana; Asst Dir: Johnny Chevere; Makeup: Miriam Martínez
Cast: El Soberano (himself), Sandra Carlo (Camelia), Johnny Chevere (Dr. Gandía), Héctor Alvarez (Arturo Vargas), Eddie (El Valentino) (himself), Félix Ramírez (himself), Rubén Ruiz (El Asesino), Iris Thorrenz (Dr. Gandía's girlfriend?), Radamez Ruiz (El Araña), Gilberto Hernández (ring ancr), La Bruja Maldita, Tony Geñao (himself), El Curita, René Sada, Isaac Rosario, Carlos Colón, Tarzán, El Yancy, José Antonio Torres (El Cumplidor), José Antonio Pérez, Eugenia Indart, José Luis Dones (man in nightclub and press photographer), Amaldo Rodríguez, El Leñador, El Buzzo, El Silencioso, El Astro, José Adorno, Tony Ramos, Carmelo Ramos, Black Angel, Magali Maldonado, Wilfredo Rosa (?traitor in Vargas' office), Uracán Santiago, Jacinto Plaza, Johnny Santana, Goliat, Luis, Annie Adorno, Carmen Rios, El Cuarteto "Los Enamorados," Jorge L. Ortiz, Armando Martínez, Janet Pacheco, Miriam Martínez, Harry Rosario
Notes: although some may criticize Mexican lucha libre movies for their low budgets and cartoonish plots, these films were professionally made by actors and technicians employed in a major motion picture industry. Sangre en Nueva York is, on the other hand, a lucha libre film made beyond the fringes of professional filmmaking (although not exactly by amateurs--most of the crew were also responsible for 1972's Mataron a Elena, probably shot mostly in Puerto Rico) with professional wrestlers whose careers were obscure at best. [I am not a wrestling historian but these guys don't show up in a Google search, so I imagine their careers were fairly localized.] Still, Sangre en Nueva York manages to entertain, especially if one has the capacity to be amused by bad 1970s fashions and hairstyles, and by performers who use wrestling-ring histrionics in "normal" dramatic scenes.
An opening scene at the "Arena Valentino"--in which wrestler El Asesino mortally injures his opponent--is followed by a cheesecake sequence showing police agent Camelia exercising and showering in her apartment. Camelia is summoned to the office of Arturo Vargas, who assigns her to help investigate a drug smuggling ring. Pro wrestlers-crimefighters El Soberano and the "Hermanos Rojo" (El Valentino and Félix Ramírez) will be working with them. El Soberano, in his gym in Peru, receives a telegram and calls El Valentino and Ramírez in Puerto Rico to plan their trip.
Meanwhile, the sinister Dr. Gandía assembles his gang of evil wrestlers--including El Asesino, El Araña, El Yancy (who wears a yellow mask), and La Bruja Maldita--to warn them about the imminent arrival of Soberano and the Hermanos Rojo (who sometimes wear matching red sports jackets). The heroic grapplers must not be allowed to meddle in Gandía's "business," so when Vargas and Camelia greet El Soberano, El Valentino, and Ramírez at Kennedy Airport, they are waylaid by the villains. After a lackluster battle in the parking lot (witnessed at close range by some curious bystanders), the scene comes to an abrupt end with no particular resolution.
The rest of the movie is a succession of clashes between Soberano and the Hermanos Rojo and Gandía's henchmen. El Asesino murders Tony Genao in the ring. El Soberano--Camelia's boyfriend--is attacked on the street, El Valentino (in his tighty-whitey underwear) is assaulted in his hotel room, one guy is murdered in a gym by El Asesino with a barbell across his neck. Vargas poses as a reporter to attend a party at Gandía's house, which erupts into a brawl between various drunken wrestlers. Gandía himself has a brief but mildly explicit softcore sex scene with his girlfriend. Gandía later murders his "mole" in the police department: "Here's your pay! Ha ha ha ha!!"
Irritated by the failure of his men to dispatch Soberano and his pals, Gandía hires "El Cumplidor" (director Torres wearing a black wig) to kidnap Camelia. Despite the abduction of his girlfriend, El Soberano has to wrestle for the "world championship" against El Asesino. [A sign indicates this takes place on August 11, 1972, and pits the "champion of Peru vs. the champion of New York."] El Soberano wins; El Asesino is killed by a sniper's bullet intended for his opponent. El Valentino and Ramírez shoot the assassin (El Araña) who tells them where to find Camelia before he dies.
Soberano, the Hermanos Rojo and the police raid Gandía's house and rescue Camelia. El Soberano catches Gandía in a field but the evil mastermind nearly slays him with a knife before Vargas shoots him to death. El Soberano: "This is the end of an empire of drugs and crime." As the movie concludes, El Valentino and Ramírez depart for Puerto Rico. El Soberano and his new wife Camelia leave for their honeymoon in Peru.
Sangre en Nueva York is a fun film, filled with bizarre characters (and hairstyles and clothes) who take their roles very seriously. The stocky, stern-faced El Soberano looks like a muscular Ernesto Gómez Cruz and is clearly the protagonist, with El Valentino and Félix Ramírez in support. Sandra Carlo, after her initial cheesecake exercise-and-shower sequence (and two nightclub scenes, one in which she dances and the other in which she sings), is cute but has little to do. Johnny Chevere and Héctor Alvarez are both OK, although Chevere has the flashier role. More amusing is director Torres as the sinister El Cumplidor, who looks hilarious in his long, black wig.
The supporting wrestlers don't have much to do--El Asesino and El Araña are the primary villains, and El Yancy is notable chiefly because he's one of the few masked wrestlers in the movie (unlike Mexican lucha libre pictures, which are dominated by masked men). The only other wrestler whose name rings a bell is Carlos (aka Carlitos) Colón, who later appeared in Santo en Oro Negro. There are four or five ring sequences in the picture, none of particular interest or drama.
Surprisingly, the direction is satisfactory, with a variety of camera angles, some nice kinetic cutting, and relatively decent lighting and editing (although the print used for the Miracle Pictures DVD is, as expected, deteriorated). The New York area location shooting adds a few points of interest, including glimpses of the Metropole Cafe, the Doll adult-movie theatre, and the Cine 1 and Cine 2 duplex, which is showing double features of Duelo de karate- Tápame contigo and Los perros de Dios-La buscona. Although there is a long scene in the "Gimnasio Soberano" which is supposedly in Peru, I wonder if it was actually shot there (the following sequence in Soberano's office is made "Peruvian" by the inclusion of a Peruvian flag and a pillow with an embroidered llama on it). The same question arises about the "Puerto Rican" scene with El Valentino and Félix Ramírez, which could have been filmed anywhere.
A few additional notes:
(a) after El Asesino kills Tony Genao in the ring, a large newspaper "EXTRA" is seen, with the headline "Crimen en Lucha Libre" and the ubiquitious sub-head "Panic in New York: Menagerie Breaks Loose" (visible in numerous other 1960s and 1970s movies, including El Callao).
(b) a poster in Dr. Gandía's office advertises a wrestling show on July 21 at "Junior High School #22." Be there!
(c) one trait Sangre en Nueva York shares with Mataron a Elena is the penchant for using hand-lettered signs even for "official" purposes, such as the door of a newspaper editor's office, a jail, etc. Honestly, these really look tacky and add to the home-movie flavor of the proceedings.
Despite four different writing credits, Sangre en Nueva York does not have a particularly complex plot. Gandía's criminal "empire" is vaguely described at best, and his henchmen are so inept that they never accomplish much. Gandía himself is petulant and arrogant but doesn't seem to have any sort of master plan or even a specific short-term goal, other than the elimination of Los Rojos. The "sniper tries to kill hero in the ring, hits his opponent instead" was used several times in Santo and other Mexican lucha films, and the rest of the sketchy plot is also familiar stuff. The overall execution is crudely amusing, although at 91 minutes this is a bit too long.
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