Free Press Journal

Hands of Stone: Strictly for boxing fans


Film: Hands of Stone

Cast: Edgar Ramirez, Robert De Niro, Ruben Blades, Ana de Armas, Usher Raymond, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, John Turturro, Ellen Barkin

Director: Jonathan Jakubowicz

If you enjoy the sight of men pummelling men, than this film about the great Panamanian pugilist Roberto ‘Hands of Stone’ Duran (Edgar Ramirez) is just for you. Spare a thought though for what the constant blows to the head did to the great Mohammed Ali (previously known as Cassius Clay) even as boxing raised him and other boxers out of poverty.

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Expectedly, the film gives viewers a ringside view of boxers slugging each other in slow motion. And so, as in other films of the genre, we see boxers brutalising and getting brutalised. Outside the ring, the illiterate Duran is not a nice man to know: he is nasty to people including his own love interest. Inside, he becomes king thanks in large part to trainer Ray Arcel (Robert de Niro, so admirable in the iconic Raging Bull) Duran would win the world championships five times and become his country’s pride and joy).

Jakubowicz hits an inspirational note in trying to explain why Duran dropped a rematch with American boxer Sugar Ray Leonard (pop star turned actor Usher Raymond), with the words, ‘no mas’ (‘no more’). Embellished by uniformly good acting especially by de Niro, Ramirez and Usher, even as it could have fleshed out subplots about families and lent coherence to time frames, Hands of Stone is recommended for sports lovers.