DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Hands of Stone Movie Review

Hands of Stone Blu-ray + Digital HD cover art
Hands of Stone is now available on home video. Read our review of the Blu-ray.

Hands of Stone (2016) movie poster Hands of Stone

Theatrical Release: August 26, 2016 / Running Time: 105 Minutes / Rating: R

Writer/Director: Jonathan Jakubowicz

Cast: Edgar Ramírez (Roberto Durán), Robert De Niro (Ray Arcel), Usher Raymond (Sugar Ray Leonard), Rubén Blades (Carlos Eleta), Pedro "Budu" Perez (Plomo), Ana de Armas (Felicidad Iglesias), Jurnee Smollett-Bell (Juanita Leonard), Óscar Jaenada (Chaflan), Ellen Barkin (Stephanie Arcel), John Turturro (Frankie Carbo), Reg E. Cathey (Don King), Yancey Arias (Benny Huertas), David Arosemena (Kid Durán), Robin Durán (Pototo Durán), Drena De Niro (Adele Arcel)


Robert De Niro gives us another boxing movie in Hands of Stone,
but like his Grudge Match co-star Sylvester Stallone did in Creed, De Niro stays ringside this time and takes a supporting role. The star is Édgar Ramírez (The Bourne Ultimatum, Joy) playing Panamanian lightweight Roberto Durán.

Durán catches the eye of retired veteran New York-based trainer Ray Arcel (De Niro, aged a bit) on a trip to Central America. Arcel, who has been pushed out of boxing by the New York Mafia who weren't keen on his idea of taking the sport nationwide, opts to come out of retirement to train the promising but hot-headed Durán, who resists at first due to his disdain of the United States. After some leaping around gives us Durán's background in boxing from a poor kid on the streets, he comes around to accept Arcel in his corner.

"Hands of Stone" tells the story of Panamanian boxer Roberto Durán (Édgar Ramírez) and his trainer Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro).

We see very little of the mechanics of Arcel's training. The old-timer stresses the mental aspect of fighting and is seen in between every round combing Durán's long hair for what he later explains is a psychological advantage over his opponent. The film depicts three bouts at length, the first two of which pit Durán against Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher, at ease in a rare acting credit). It's odd to see an American sports movie want you to root for a Panamanian and against his American foe. Their battle wages on both in and outside the ring, with Durán belittling Sugar Ray and Sugar Ray's life in interviews and hostile encounters.

The film's third and final match, the only non-title fight it dramatizes, offers Durán a chance at redemption, so you can probably guess the outcomes of the first two if you weren't following boxing in the late 1970s and early '80s. In addition to depicting his in-ring heroics, the movie gives us the fighter's life story: his meeting and wooing of his wife Felicidad (War Dogs' Ana de Armas) and the births of their many children (the males of which are all named "Roberto") two years apart. We also get a glimpse at Sugar Ray's marriage (former child actor Jurnee Smollett-Bell plays his wife) and Ray's marriage (Ellen Barkin plays his wife in three scenes), which comes to include a secret daughter with a drug problem (Drena De Niro, De Niro's real adopted daughter).

Outside the ring, Roberto (Edgar Ramirez) swiftly courts Felicidad (Ana de Armas). The respect Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond) shows for Roberto Duran is not reciprocated.

An effort is made to put Durán's career into the context of Panama politics, from US military's presence to legislation over control of the Panama Canal to the assassination of a president. While they flesh out the film and throw a bone to viewers with no interest in boxing,
these bits never mesh especially well with the boxer's story or deepen our appreciation of his success.

Hands of Stone, whose title comes from Durán's nickname, is written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, a Venezuelan filmmaker who hasn't done much since helming Secuestro Express in 2005. A good amount of this film plays out in subtitled Spanish, Ramírez's native language.

Boxing has yielded some great films over the years, including, of course, De Niro's Raging Bull. Hands of Stone is not even close to being in the same league, which explains why awards player The Weinstein Company is releasing the film wide now instead of rolling it out closer to Christmas. But it's comparable to Southpaw, a fictional Weinstein drama that opened around the same time a year ago to mixed reviews, good box office, and absolutely nothing in the way of serious accolades. That is still probably a better reception than this mediocre film will draw.

Related Reviews:
Édgar Ramírez: JoyZero Dark ThirtyVantage Point | Robert De Niro: Grudge MatchSilver Linings PlaybookThe InternAmerican Hustle
Boxing: CreedSouthpawThe FighterRockyMillion Dollar BabyAnnapolisReal Steel
Now in Theaters: War DogsSuicide SquadHell or High WaterJason Bourne

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed August 26, 2016.

Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 The Weinstein Company.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.