Movie Review: Hands of Stone

Hands of Stone tells the story of Roberto Duran, a Panamanian boxer who rose to fame in the 1970s and '80s. The movie told the story of his entire life, too, and seeing how he grew up in Panama was especially interesting.

Duran (Edgar Ramirez) grows up poor in Panama, with U.S. forces occupying the country. He wants to learn to fight, even as a small child, and soon he finds a trainer and starts to train. Eventually, he becomes more widely known, and legendary trainer Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro), an American, wants to help train him. Soon, a fight against Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher, going by Usher Raymond here) is set up, and Duran will have the opportunity to prove himself against one of America's all-time greatest boxers.

I deliberately made the above movie synopsis vague in order to avoid spoilers; to talk about the movie past the Sugar Ray fight would definitely include them. All of the actors in this film were great - in addition to De Niro and Ramirez, we also had John Turturro in a small role as an NYC mob boss; Ellen Barkin as Stephanie Arcel, De Niro's character's wife; Ana de Armas as Felicidad Iglesias, who becomes Duran's wife; and Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Juanita Leonard, the wife of Sugar Ray, whom I actually saw at BlogHer this year, as she was on the closing keynote panel.

Yes, see this movie. I love sports films that are done well, and this one definitely is. I was not familiar with Roberto Duran before the film, so I found his story to be very interesting; I wasn't familiar with Ray Arcel, either, although of course I had heard of Sugar Ray Leonard. Both the fight scenes and the story of Duran's life are laid out nicely here, too, and anyone who can appreciate a good story will end up enjoying this movie. It's also worth seeing on the big screen just for the lushness of Panama, and the fights are just a bonus.

Hands of Stone
is in theaters today, August 26th, and is rated R with a runtime of 105 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.

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