Film Review: Hands of Stone

Film Poster: Hands of Stone

Film Poster: Hands of Stone

HANDS OF STONE  – 2 (out of 4 Stars)

On November 25, 1980 I was in the Louisiana Superdome to watch a rematch fight between Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard where in the 8th round Duran threw up his hands and said “No màs No màs” (no more no more) and announced he had enough and was retiring from boxing. That once in a lifetime incident changed boxing forever and made Roberto Duran a household name, good or bad.

Now 26 years later the movie Hands of Stone chronicles Roberto Duran’s rise from poverty in Panama to his World championship status and his fall from grace. His famous trainer Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro) and his struggle to develop boxing as a worldwide television sport against the desires of the New York mob’s controlling syndicate.

This is an interesting story but unfortunately not well presented. The fight scenes looked too choreographed with bad editing always cutting back to the ringside audience as each punch is landed. De Niro’s lackluster performance seems as if he’s just reading the lines and collecting a paycheck. Ellen Barkin playing his wife Stephanie Arcel, delivers a stellar performance as an old Jewish grandmother who’s supportive of her husband.  A sub plot of Arcel’s estranged stepdaughter Adele (Drena De Niro – yes, Robert De Niro’s daughter) never takes hold.  Instead too much emphasis was placed on Panama’s struggles in obtaining the Canal from the USA as one of the main story points.

Film Image: Hands of Stone

Film Image: Hands of Stone

The writing was poor and all over the map. The vacillating between English and Spanish with English subtitles was distracting.  While John Tutturro (Frankie Carbo) turned in a wonderful performance as the New York mob syndicate henchman who converses with Arcel throughout the years.  Even with the addition of a good musical score, this film just couldn’t seem to land a punch.

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