The rest of the cast is top notch including John Tuturro, even though not a lot of screen time, as a mafia boss. Still, enabling the characters to converse in their native tongue does not add enough authenticity for this film to ring entirely true. Ramirez is frankly to old for the teenage Duran, a wild kid brought up in poverty in Panama who becomes maybe the best lightweight ever. Duran took two big money fights with Sugar Ray Leonard Usher the golden boy of boxing and Duran won the first fight by taunting Leonard to brawl with him, a mistake Leonard did not make the second time. This is not a big film but that Robert De Niro was willing to lend his considerable talents to it speaks volumes about its worth. Heck even the balance of languages English and Spanish is respectfully and organically done.
It shows both the political side and economic side of the struggle in that country during those times. It's not enough to be an inspirational sports drama anymore - and definitely not when it comes to boxing, which has seen a tremendous quantity of theatrical efforts in the last few years alone. On that note it also delves into the corruption of the sport from it's inception to it's world wide fame. If a great film is three great scenes and no bad ones, then Hands of Stone is 50% of the way there. But right before he continues the fight, Arcel always combs back Duran's hair. For boxing fans and for those who respect the history of sports this film is a must.
The idea of fighting his whole life becomes comically downplayed when he's shown to literally begin streetfighting as a preteen on the poverty-ridden streets of El Chorrillo, before receiving more formal training by a coach at a local gym. And taking into account De Niro's own expertise with boxing movies, it's difficult not to trust everything he says about the up-and-comer. Content could have been better and the theme is very confusing for realizing and several subplots created over the top impacts. Audiences are also supposed to believe inconceivably that this hotheaded brute used superior intelligence to distract his nemesis, rather than merely spitting out insults in the heat of the moment. The most important thing of a sports biography movie is its twist or the turning points which are completely missing in this movie.
It all feels very straight-forward, and hence there was no emotional investment on my part to feel connected to any of this. Hands of Stone didn't only aim at explaining Durán's motivation and his complicated personality, but also the historical and economic context of the decades through which his boxing career was developed. At times it plays like a documentary. From my point of view, that makes Hands of Stone fairly pointless. Watch at your own risk and It will be good if you expect nothing from this biographical drama. He had a very hard life growing up in Panama, and so boxing was his ticket out. Cathey as bigger than life boxing promoter Don King.
Two other violent scenes center around Duran's wife: when he meets her, he flirts with her before chasing her and cornering her against a wall, asking her to marry him as she cowers, then responds. The film indicated that there was some controversy over Duran potentially hitting Buchanan below his belt line, but as there was controversy that followed Duran throughout his 33 year fighting career in and out of the ring Duran became a world champion, won and lost over the decades to follow. Rating: R Run time: 1 hour 45 minutes Stars: Ana de Armas, Robert De Niro, Edgar Ramírez, John Turturro Director: Jonathan Jakubowicz Boxing as a sport continues to retreat to its corner. Everything in Hands Of Stone is true to life, the spectacular boxing matches, the political tension, the commercial interests behind the matches and even the mob in the background, this is a complex movie. This movie's theme is boxing and this a biography movie.
But at the movie's start, Duran is just another poor kid stealing mangoes from the territory held by menacing U. Ana de Armas, Usher Raymond, Ruben Blades, Oscar Jaenada and Ellen Barkin are all very good with Reg E. Hands Of Stone chronicles the chaotic life and career of former Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran, as seen through the eyes of his trainer. The story is a rise, fall and rise again story of legendary Panamanian boxer Roberto Durán Edgar Ramírez who climbed into notoriety in 1968 as a 16 year old in his first controversial appearance at Madison Square Gardens. The highlights of the film, obviously, is Edgar Ramirez performance, but in my opinion, gives me a mixed perspective. Everyone was tuned into their television for the occasion.
Robert De Niro is fine as Ray Arcel giving a spry, worthwhile performance in the same ballpark as Billy Sunday in Men of Honor 2000. If I were to watch this movie again, it would be for one reason; the boxing scenes. This is the cinematic equivalent of a Pinball game. Its shaped by the political turmoil in Panama during the 70's and the early 80's so when he confronts Sugar Ray Leonard Usher , his stakes are as high as to carry along his nation's pride with him. A little bit of boxing! The movie pays more focus on the man himself and a spectacular role played by Robert DeNiro As Ray Arcel, world famous fight trainer. The film starts as famous boxer trainer, Ray Arcel Robert De Niro , walks into the sepia-lit boxing ring of Madison Square Garden.
Against this backdrop, Duran's machismo and violence makes sense: It was either fight or sink into poverty. Yes, Duran forfeited the contest, but to this day he denies having uttered those words of surrender. No boxing-movie review can duck its obligation to rate the fight scenes, of course, and it strikes me that editing one of these babies must be a filmmaker's ultimate challenge. The film however focuses on his relationship with legendary boxing trainer Ray Arcel De Niro whose own exploits in the boxing world made him the first trainer to be inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame. The story is a true one more than difficult to find in news reports at the time and so all the more jarring when told with the passionate clarity that it gets here.
Many have won fights but few fighters have won the respect of their foes as did Duran and Sugar Ray back in the days. Against this backdrop, scrappy Duran begins his career with street fights, gaining the notice of the richest man in Panama, Carlos Eleta , who sets Duran up with Arcel. I recommend Hands Of Stone for not only boxing fans, but fans of films that display poverty stricken characters rising to fame and fortune, and doing well by their rewards by sharing their fortunes with the less fortunate as Roberto Duran, world champion, has accomplished throughout his life. This is the story of Roberto and how he rose to fame. The best that can be said about Hands of Stone is it does what it does predictably and well, like a cover band that's been around for years.