Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone

Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone

2022, PG-13, 95 min. Directed by Michael D. Olmos. Starring Charlie Clark, Danny Trejo, Andy Cheng, Kuno Becker, Renée Victor, Michelle Lee, Marko Zaror, Sal Lopez, Sofia Pernas, Cain Velasquez.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., April 29, 2022

There’s enough mixed martial arts stunt work and fight choreography going on in Texas-shot action comedy Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone to fill out two sequels should a franchise happen. Kickass mixed martial artistry and the occasional wire fu aside, it’s the winningly earnest tone and the obvious fact that it's a labor of love on the part of everyone, both the cast and the crew, that raise the film above the budgetary and/or straight-to-VOD limitations of generic genre fare. A mash-up of películas de acción, supernatural family drama, and light humor, it wears its heart – and its influences – on its avocado-accented, superheroic sleeve.

In a wildly meta twist, actual Brownsville Nissan dealer Charlie Clark plays a fictional version of himself who moonlights as a luchador in underground lucha libre battles. Dubbed the Green Ghost (say it fast and drop the “st”), he finds himself embroiled in a cosmic battle involving ancient Mayan gods and demons, a magic emerald with limitless power for good or evil, and various Stargates (why not?). As his adoptive Nana (Victor, of the TV version of Snowpiercer) explains, everyman Charlie is in fact imbued with mystical powers and sworn to combat the power-mad Drake (Zaror, of Fantastic Fest faves Mirageman and Mandrill, both helmed by Ernesto Díaz Espinoza, who serves as co-editor here) and his minions. Drake, says Nana, is “the Mayan apocalypse made flesh,” so what’s a hapless but determined schmo like Charlie to do? Take a crash course in badassery from El Trío de la Luz, or “the heroic trio of light,” natch. Master Hung (Cheng, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), Master Kane (Velasquez), and Master Gin (Trejo, in comic-relief mode), the latter of whom “studied drunken boxing but only learned the drunken part,” put Charlie through the kung fu and MMA basics, but, as shown in flashbacks, this pupil’s true strength must come from inside himself before it can become the force for good needed to banish Drake and save the universe. Gorgeously art-directed chaos ensues.

If this sounds like something Robert Rodriguez might’ve come up with, you’re not that far off base: Sibling David co-produced Green Ghost and Robert Rodriguez’s Chingon band enlivens the requisite pre-battle montage sequence with a Latinx cover of “Eye of the Tiger,” aka “El Ojo del Tigre.” Homages to genre classics abound, from name-dropping Big Trouble in Little China’s Jack Burton to Raiders of the Lost Ark. Director of photography Amza Moglan drenches the whole adventure in comic-book-splash-page-by-way-of-Mario Bava violets, crimsons, and chartreuses, with the entirety of Olmos’ film set to a purposefully powerful score from Rocco. Somehow, all the disparate elements come together and the end result is a uniquely Tex-Mex tale of superheroics versus archvillainy. Charlie, Nana, and the rest of Team Justice are bonded by, if not blood, exactly, then the concept of family itself. It’s not Marvel but it is pretty damn marvelous.

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Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone, Michael D. Olmos, Charlie Clark, Danny Trejo, Andy Cheng, Kuno Becker, Renée Victor, Michelle Lee, Marko Zaror, Sal Lopez, Sofia Pernas, Cain Velasquez

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