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Hands of Stone

Hands of Stone: Scattered Biopic of One of Boxing’s Greats

  • Édgar RamírezRobert De Niro
  • Action & AdventureDrama
reviewed by
Marija Loncarevic
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Hands of Stone: Scattered Biopic of One of Boxing’s Greats

Widely regarded to as one of the greatest fighters of all time, Panamanian boxer, Roberto Duran is is the subject of Jonathan Jakubowicz’s Hands of Stone; an occasionally absorbing and well-acted film whose end result comes short of its ambition of being a rand, sweeping biopic.

The film opens up in 1971 with Duran’s (Ramirez) boxing career already on the rise.  But although immensely talented, he lacks the discipline to take his career to then next level; something that the hot-tempered boy from the streets of Panama lacks.  

His manager, Carlos Eleta (Blades), decides to bring in the help of legendary trainer, Ray Arcel (De Niro), who had been retired for almost twenty years after being runout by the mob. Sensing Duran’s potential, Ray soon begins working with the boxer who initially wasn’t too thrilled about working with an American trainer, before receiving a chance to fight the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher).

Attempting to cover Duran’s life-story from all possible angles is the film’s biggest downfall; the approach results in a scattered and an unfocused execution of what, on paper, has all the ingredients for a complex bipoic. Covering Duran’s unhappy childhood before skipping to beginnings as a boxer in the early 1970’s, the film fails to deliver the emotional punch for the audiences to get fully engaged, with several other subplots, including Duran’s relationship with his wife, Felicidad Iglesias (Armas), fighting for attention.

It’s a shame, because the performances deserved more, with the relationship between Duran and Arcel serving as the heartbeat of the film – if only Jakubowicz managed to stay on it more. Capturing the feverishly hot-temper and charm of the famed boxer, Ramirez shines, while De Niro delivers a surprisingly subtle and effective performance after a long string of disappointing roles. The boxing scenes – although a little choppy – are relatively pleasing and even Mr. Usher himself manages to deliver an affective performance as the legendary Sugar Ray.

You can count the number of truly great sports biopics on one hand; Hands of Stone had the potential to satisfy both mainstream and boxing enthusiast cravings, but it never comes together into one fluent film.

Like This? Try

Raging Bull (1980), The Fighter (2010), Southpaw (2015)

360 Tip

Al Pacino was the first choice to play Ray Arcel.

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