Hands of Stone (Manos de Piedras) is a biopic of the great Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran (Édgar Ramirez) is the typical feel good film that shows life of any great athlete in a dramatic way. It was a celebration of his life and the people around him, in particular his trainer Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro) who is a very well known trainer in the world of boxing. The thing with films like this that they tend to focus on one big fight, or series of fights, as the climax for the film and to present an antagonist which in this case is Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher).
As stated before it is the typical sport/biopic film where it shows the upbringing of the protagonist and his struggle to the top. Followed by how Roberto Duran deals with fame, which much to our surprise he falls out of relevance by letting himself go; then he goes and finds himself and his drive to succeed again. This is filled with a lot of the typical fight montages that show his rise to the top against various unnamed boxers. The shaky camera and constant quick cuts during the fight sequences were a bit frustrating for me I wish those action sequences would’ve been a done on a wider shot so we could see the entire ring and the fighters movements. I would’ve preferred if this‘d been shot more in the style of Cinderella Man, another sport film based on like life of James J Braddock. Granted for me this film for me was far better than Cinderella Man, the story of it was a bit more compelling to me for a reason I can’t explain. Yet in a technical aspect for me Hands of Stone was the weaker of the films due to the constant cuts and shaky camera usage.
The huge relevant upside for me is how they cast appropriate actors for their respective roles. They cast actors that were at least in the same ballpark as the people they were to portray in the film. This is quite contrary to the whitewashing of Hollywood that we are used to seeing in films, one of the more recent culprits being the upcoming film The Great Wall starring Matt Damon but takes place in China. That really bothers me because of the lack of accuracy in the choice of casting, why must Hollywood fear diversity? I am glad that this film doesn’t fear that diversity and includes a cast from all backgrounds. The other highlight for me was the dialogue in the movie was a mix of Spanish and English, where appropriate of course. There was no having Spanish dialogue converted to English or vice versa, when in a Panama around no English speakers the dialogue is in the appropriate language. This also doesn’t happen often, but I found it necessary and appropriate for the movie to have the right impact.
One of my favorite points in the movie is during the second fight between Duran and Leonard, where Duran looks around the crowd in the entire arena and decides to quit the fight. He quits mid fight under the whole pretense of being forced to do the second fight, stating that he wasn’t a clown or show dog. Which is understandable since he felt coming from a different country that he was looked down on by the Americans, this understandable since minorities tend to be taken advantage of. Haven’t you ever heard someone say something along the lines of “He’s a great boxer in his home country but he’s nothing in comparison to INSERT AMERICAN BOXER HERE,” this is a form of racism and a holier than though viewpoint. I liked that they showed Duran recognizing this mentality and standing up for it however that moment is the aforementioned low point in the movie and his career. After this Duran has to struggle through his identity of self as a man and as a boxer to comeback to the top again, which lo and behold it happens.
Hands of Stone is a decent film, yet one that is predictable in pacing and process. A typical sports biopic yet with a few unique factors that redeems it in a few ways, mostly on how it sends the message of always fighting and getting in life for yourself and no one else. The acting of all involved is good and does help the film to a point, yet it could’ve done a bit better in showing the relationships amongst the characters. I recommend boxing fans going to see this film since they will appreciate the films subject matter and it will bring back memories of past fights. As said before this is a great but flawed story yet it left me satisfied as a boxing fan.
|Hands of Stone (2016)|
|Studio:||The Weinstein Company|
|Genre:||Drama, Biopic, Sport|
|Release Date:||August 26th, 2016|