Cassandro wrestles to the top while pinning down Prime Video

Thu. September 14, 2023 12:00 AM
by Jerry Nunn

Presenting the “Liberace of Lucha Libre” taking on Mexican machismo in a sudden death match called Cassandro. Amateur wrestler Saúl Armendáriz is living with his mom in El Paso, Texas full of big dreams in his head. Exoticos were treated as clowns in the wrestling world and not allowed to win their matches at the time, but Armendáriz is determined to flip the script and change that.

This story is a love letter to his mother and her support will make your heart sing. Sewing, makeup and novellas come together to form an homage in the creation of Cassandro for his mother Jocasta played by Perla De La Rosa. The character rises to massive fame in this tale reminiscent of Rocky and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. 

Gael García Bernal is the thinking man's actor and he relishes the role in Cassandro with gusto.

He is also an executive producer for the project which shows he's invested in more than one way. Bernal has carved out a career by playing gay several times and this might be his best work yet. As El Topo his expressions are masked and it's not until Cassandro is brought to life that his devilish grin is born. Armendariz lights up whatever room he is in and his heart is sometimes too open. The real-life person has mentioned his mental health struggles in the past, but the producers have not focused on that for this film.

Another straight-identifying performer who often portrays people within the LGBTQ+ community on film is Raúl Castillo. Gerardo is the closeted relationship that Armendariz faced for many years and clearly shaped who the performer was privately. It's a complex and multilayered character that Castillo continues to carve out in his career. 

Musician Bad Bunny dips his toe in the water and barely gets his feet wet as his character Felipe is not given much to sink his teeth in, but his lips do have a moment.

On the other side of this, queer actor Roberta Colindrez does just the opposite and grounds her character in reality elevating the material.

Speaking of music, the soundtrack of Cassandro is carefully curated with Spanish-sung disco tunes. Celia Cruz rises from the grave to sing “I Will Survive” and La Lupe's “Fever” was pitch-perfect in the film.

Bernal being smaller in stature allows Cassandro many David versus Goliath moments throughout the film highlighted by the cinematography team. The scrappy fighter takes on Gigántico and toxic masculinity both at the same time in the ring. Machismo in Mexican culture is deeply rooted in dangerous stereotypes and manipulated religion with no apparent end in sight. Saul Armendariz bucked that idea and came out as a winner by celebrating his own uniqueness.

Cassandro deserves to win also and come home to viewers of Prime Video on September 22, 2023, following a brief release in theaters for award consideration.

Besos for Cassandro as he drops in on Prime Video on September 22, 2023.