Carman: The Champion

Who is Carman? Carman is an extremely popular contemporary Christian singer. Carman is the star of Carman: The Champion, yet his character's name is Orlando Leone. So why is the title Carman: The Champion? Shouldn't it be Orlando: The Champion? It's an almost Costner-esque ego trip. And although Carmen looks the part of a boxer, Carman is no actor, and should never venture onto the big screen again. It seems as if somebody watched one too many boxing movies in this shoddy Rocky-redux. This movie takes as many tired old cliches as it can and throws them all into one nearly unwatchable movie. It's all there. The training, the reluctant fighter, the new love interest, and the climactic final fight. Leone is a preacher who, ten years ago was a championship boxer. He is trying to build a multimillion-dollar building for his ministry, but lacks the funds.

For most of the movie, nothing happens. This is because Carmen, Tad Callies, Tony Cinciripini, and director Lee Stanley (Held for Ransom) insist on focusing on insipid and pointless subplots that never amount to anything. He catches Cesar (Romeo Rene Fabian, Mi Familia) trying to rob his car and takes him to church. When he meets Cesar's mother Allia (Patricia Manterola, The City of Lost Souls), they begin a slow relationship. Cesar is also trying to break free from a local gang. Orlando moonlights as a hotel security guard, and breaks up a party in one of the rooms, punching out Keshon Banks (Jeremy Williams) in the process. Banks is the current cruiserweight champion, and challenges Orlando to a fight. There's more! Banks' manager, Freddie (Michale Nouri, Finding Forrester, Picture This) is Orlando's estranged brother. He offers Orlando the money needed to fund his ministry if he agrees to fight. Oh, and one more thing: Orlando was hit in the head and now has something called 'radical Parkinson's.' Any further blow to the head could kill him. What it has to do with the real Parkinson's is a mystery (come on, at least come up with a better name). Don't forget to throw in the crooked boxing promoters and the suspicious circumstances of the death of Orlando's father.

With so much going on, the story has no time to focus. Everything is a jumble, and the lack of character development means that the audience does not care what happens to anybody. The atrocious acting and offensive Latino stereotyping does not help at all either. Carmen himself needs to work on his delivery; he sounds like he is reading. Williams fares the worst, but most of it is not his fault. Every time Banks is about to do something menacing, Stanley slows the camera and plays loud, melodramatic music. The boxing match is okay, but shot horribly. The camera continually goes to the audience, so the fight is not on screen as much as it should be. And is there any doubt what the outcome will be? On a final note, Carman: The Champion is the latest in a recent flood of Christian themed movies to hit theaters. Aside from the fact that the lead character is a preacher, there is very little religion in the movie. Change his current job to accountant, trash collector, or sales clerk and it just becomes a crappy movie instead of a crappy Christian movie. Would a preacher actually enter a ring and pummel an opponent to obtain money? The ending, and the way Orlando obtains his money, is particularly dubious. And why are all these Christian movies rated PG-13? Shouldn't they be rated PG or even G?

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 27 minutes, Rated PG-13 for street and ring violence, and for drug content.

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