DVD / Blu-Ray
“Rings” is also new to Blu-Ray this week. Most rags to riches movies start the main character off...
Boxer Roberto Duran’s life story is highlighted by solid directing and on-point performances from Edgar Ramirez and Robert De Niro.
Is it worth $10? Yes
Part boxing movie and part biopic, “Hands of Stone” tells the story of Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez), a boxer who rose from poverty in Panama to become a world champion. Yes, you’ve seen this kind of movie plenty of times before, and the fact that this is based on a true story isn’t necessarily adding to the appeal. But this will: The fight scenes and training montages are edited in an engaging way, and the film is full of little moments and details that make it a truly lively and dynamic viewing experience.
Duran is an up-and-coming boxer when he hooks up with esteemed trainer Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro) in 1971. Through Arcel Duran learns both boxing technique and how to strategize, and when this is combined with his natural “ring sense” it makes him nearly unbeatable and world famous. His biggest rival is Sugar Ray Leonard, who’s nicely played by hip-hop star Usher Raymond as a mild-mannered guy who’s light on his feet and tough to beat in the ring. We also see Duran outside of the ring, mostly chasing a schoolgirl named Felicidad (Ana de Armas) and engaging with Panamanian locals after he becomes famous.
These distractions are worsened by the fact that Duran’s story is so compelling, meaning we want him on screen more and don’t want to be distracted by Arcel’s personal drama. Destitute, lacking education and abandoned by his father at age 14, Duran fought in street fights for money before going under the wing of a boxing trainer named Plomo (Pedro Perez). His journey to becoming a champion, complete with adversity, love and fame, is as compelling a rags to riches tale as you’ll find. Ramirez plays him with the appropriate stubborn conviction, and in the process gets us to like Duran and forgive him for his flaws.
If you don’t follow boxing you might not know the name Roberto Duran, and that’s okay. After all, it doesn’t mean you cannot (or will not) enjoy his story in “Hands of Stone,” which is about on par with “Creed” in terms of overall quality. Or put another way, it’s a solid movie worthy of the admirable life and career Duran has led.
Did you know?
Duran’s nickname was “manos de piedra,” which is Spanish for “hands of stone.”