Hands of Stone, due for release in August, tells the story of Roberto Durán, a former professional boxer from Panama who’s widely regarded as one of the best fighters of all time. The film primarily tells the story of his rivalry with Sugar Ray Leonard who he fought three times.
Édgar Ramírez stars as Duran while Robert De Niro interestingly takes on the role of his trainer, Ray Arcel, the man who trained 18 world champion fighters. Taking the trailer and early indications into account, De Niro seems in many ways the films figurehead, this is unsurprising given the amount of attention his name will draw to Hands of Stone and his role seems like one that could suit the ageing Academy Award winner.
The films’ biopic style plot also includes scenes from Duran’s childhood and it looks like director Jonathan Jakubowicz will attempt to portray Duran’s story in an inspirational light, as boxing films often do. Venezuelan director Jakubowicz is relatively inexperienced, but his 2005 film Secuestro Express was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at The British Independent Film Awards and was highly praised by critics elsewhere. Hands of Stone represents his first blockbuster opportunity and as a result it’s hard to predict the outcome of his directorial command of the film.
Audiences know what to expect from De Niro and his presence in the cast is a definite plus point, we have to remember though that his portfolio is not one without blemishes. Recent films Grudge Match and Dirty Grandpa remind us that Robert De Niro alone is not a guarantee of quality for Hands of Stone. That leads to ask how the rest of the cast will stack up- Édgar Ramírez’ takes on the films’ central role as Duran and his credentials aren’t in doubt- recent work includes big films such as Joy and Zero Dark Thirty. A stranger decision though was the choice to cast Usher, (yes, the singer, Usher) as the now iconic, Sugar Ray Leonard.
The recent death of Muhammad Ali has sent shockwaves across all media platforms and will likely attract some attention back to the sport. Hands of Stone may well benefit from the added attention now directed at boxing but it’s hard to predict quite how good this film will be. That said, early signs definitely indicate some potential. Stay tuned to Maverick Film for more on Hands of Stone.
By George Storr
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