Film Review: Hands Of Stone

hands-of-stone_rIt’s difficult to imagine Robert De Niro in any sport film other than boxing. In his fourth film on the sport (Raging Bull, Night and the City, Grudge Match), De Niro plays the altruistic and patriarchal Ray Arcel who nurtured and propelled Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez) to the pinnacle of boxing glory in the light-middleweight category.

Growing up in squalid conditions in tumultuous Panama, against the backdrop of widespread resentment against USA (both countries claimed control over the Panama Canal), and aided by Arcel’s strategies, Duran achieves his ambition of being a world-beating pugilist.

Based on Christian Girdice’s biography ‘Hands of Stone’, director Jakubowicz does a commendable job of chronicling Duran’s life from 1964 to 1983 and of portraying the young hungry athlete with a burning desire to defeat the unbeaten American Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond). Duran’s hatred for capitalist America also stemmed from the fact that his mother was deserted by an American marine soon after his birth.

Cuban actress Ana de Armas, as Felicidad, Duran’s lover and wife, looks stunning and seems at ease in the couple of steamy scenes with him. But it’s the 73-year-old celebrated veteran Robert De Niro, who is at home playing the 73-year-old mentor Ray Arcel, who coaxes his ward into psychological warfare with his opponents and usually emerging victor.

The film will neither be slotted nor remembered as a knock-out of a movie, but as a biopic of two sporting legends – the cool and composed Sugar Ray Leonard, who is the perfect foil to the tempestuous and self-destructive Duran.

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