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Huracán review – Rocky-like portrait of a cage fighter on the edge in Miami

Ellen E Jones
·2-min read

There’s a Rocky-like energy about Huracán, a film that combines a gritty feel for the unloved urban landscape with a psychological-thriller plot and a setting in the ultraviolet world of mixed martial arts. Star Cassius Corrigan even looks a bit like the young Sylvester Stallone, but he’s gone one better: Corrigan is starring, writing and directing in this, his feature debut.

He plays Alonso Santos, a troubled young man in Miami who is diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder by a sympathetic court-appointed therapist named Isabela (Yara Martinez). Whenever Alonso feels threatened, his aggressive alter ego “Huracán” emerges. And since he’s on parole, facing homelessness and making his living in the (almost) anything-goes arena of MMA – AKA cage fighting – that’s fairly often.

Isabela takes it on herself to help Alonso by guiding him to the childhood source of his trauma. There’s no guarantee of success, since her methods are experimental and her professional boundaries are vague. Corrigan’s performance also teeters on the line between vulnerability and menace throughout, making for plenty of entertaining suspense.

While most therapists would probably balk at this depiction of their working practices, and the use of serious mental illness as a plot device is cliched and questionable, yet Huracán succeeds as a portrait of a man on the edge. It has a Loachian way of eliciting naturalism from non-actors (real-life Muay Thai champion Grégory “Cheetah” Choplin is particularly effective as Alonso’s tough coach), and, on Alonso’s lonely jogs through the streets of Miami, the camera finds the same tropical twilight quality that Oscar-winner Moonlight so beautifully captured.

He’s not yet a heavyweight, but in the (almost) anything goes arena of film-making, Corrigan has clearly got what it takes.

• Huracán is in cinemas from 23 October.