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Hands of Stone

Opening Date
25 Aug 2016
R21 Sexual Scenes and Some Coarse Language
111 mins
English with Chinese subtitles
Action, Biography, Drama
Jonathan Jakubowicz
Robert De Niro, Edgar Ramirez, Ana de Armas, Usher Raymond, Ellen Barkin, John Turturro
Hands Of Stone follows the life of Roberto Durán (Edgar Ramirez), the Panamanian fighter who made his professional debut in 1968 as a 16-year‐old and retired in 2002 at the age of 50. In June 1980, he defeated Sugar Ray Leonard (Usher Raymond) to capture the WBC welterweight title, but shocked the boxing world by returning to his corner in their November rematch, famously saying the words “no mas” (no more).
By Jason Lin  30 Aug 2016
Hands of Stone is such a boxer who needs to get his act together for a sensational knock out victory.
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There is always something to show and inspire in a legendary figure’s biopic made for the big screen. In the case of Jonathan Jakubowicz’s Hands of Stone, the story of Panamanian boxer Roberto Durán is more than capable of telling an inspiration of how determination and talent can allow a professional boxer to fulfill his dreams and his country’s destiny.
Hands of Stone is a boxer with great vigour and techniques. These are seen from the strong performances driving the film. It is however stifling to observe how Hands of Stone behaves like a highly driven boxer being overly restrained by his trainer to prevent him from reaching his full potential.
You need strategy, it is all in the mind”, trainer Ray Arcel (Robert de Niro) advises Durán beyond great physicality and techniques. A sport biopic needs more than exhilarating boxing action sequences to achieve a compelling knockout. It needs a good strategy to tell a motivating chapter of Durán’s lifelong pursuit of professional boxing.
His infamous saga with boxer Sugar Ray Leonard would have simply sufficed in the 105-minute film. The fight between Durán and Leonard was well established before and after the match. Durán deployed some form of pre-match strategy despite adopting some questionable approach that goes against a man’s principles and values.
Disrupting the thoughts and focus of your opponent works wonders, which is historically witnessed when Durán won the match against Leonard as the new welterweight champion. This also helps to set up the context for Durán‘s succumbing to undesirable temptations as a champion, which eventually led to his downfall. It’s a good story of how an underdog’s rise to the top cannot be sustainable with complacency.
For some unknown reasons, Jakubowicz supplements it with too much narrative baggage to dilute the focus and impact of his film. Starting from Durán’s earlier days as a street kid who does anything for survival to his forming of a family with his wife Felicidad Iglesias (played by the luscious Ana de Armas) and countless children, the viewers are also treated to Arcel’s backstory of how he was viciously played out by the people with the power and money in the industry.
Perhaps being a little too ambitious, Jucubowicz also included scenes of political tension built up between the US and Panama over the Panama Canal. It was a reference in Durán’s life as he personally held grudges against the Americans. This was also juxtaposed against his parentage where his American father abandoned his mother and him at a young age.
Despite the greatness that was intended, the film’s overweight narrative content and structure is akin to Durán becoming a fat and unfit boxer. No matter how talented and capable, a boxer is not able to achieve when he gets too much in his mind and loses focus. Hands of Stone is such a boxer who needs to get his act together for a sensational knock out victory.
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Trailers / Videos
Official Trailer #2
Teaser Trailer #1

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