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Hands of Stone
BLU-RAY disk
12.01.2016 By: Sean Wist
Hands of Stone order download
Director:
Jonathan Jakubowicz

Actors:
Edgar Ramirez
Robert DeNiro
Ruben Blades
Usher Raymond

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A biopic on the legendary Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran chronicling his rise to fame and renowned matches with Sugar Ray Leonard.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
The trailer for Hands of Stone makes this film look like a decent made-for-TV movie. They may not have been what writer/director Jonathan Jakubowicz was going for, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. This flick covers the major milestones in the life of Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran, from his upbringing on the streets to his famed re-match with Sugar Ray Leonard (and beyond).

Edgar Ramirez is more than up to the task of playing Duran, showing off some decent boxing finesse and turning up the charm when necessary. More often than not, he plays Duran as man with too much pride. It works for the story and certainly seems to ring true for the character. Robert DeNiro plays his coach, Ray Arcel. DeNiro doesn't do anything outside of the norm here, nor does he need to.

The film moves at a decent pace as we follow Duran and Arcel through their boxing career. The story often sidetracks to give us a glimpse at the lives of everyone involved, including Usher as Sugar Ray Leonard. Sometimes this offers up some interesting material, but it mostly drags the film down. That's where Jakubowicz truly falters.

The directing is serviceable, but it's the story that tries to tell too much. You get the sense that a Steve Jobs-esque strategy would've worked better for the film - a story revolving around the two big matches of the film. Instead, the film tries to offer up supplementary material that never really adds that much to the whole. In the end, the movie tries to make the audience understand why Durant did what he did, but it doesn't work. This results in a film that feels a half hour too long. It's entertaining for the most part, but definitely reserved for home entertainment where you can pause and play at will.
THE EXTRAS
Roberto Duran: A Boxing Legend, a Nation's Pride (23:33): While this is double the running time of your standard EPK, there's not a huge wealth of material to be found in this behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. Most of it covers the story of Roberto Duran as we already know from the film. Far more interesting is Edgar Ramirez training in Panama, or the real Sugar Ray Leondard training with Usher. It's not a complete loss, but this is a real missed opportunity.

Deleted Scenes (10:42): While there is far more from the film that should've been cut, these scenes don't add much to the proceedings either accept to flesh out our characters a little more.

Lyric Video (2:26): If you stuck around for the end credits of Hands of Stone, you were treated to the original song, 'Champions', by Usher and Ruben Blades. The song's pretty terrible, but this kinda covers Usher's thoughts on it, with some lyrics flashed upon the screen in case you forgot.

Lyric Video (2:32): Like the previous extra, except covering Ruben Blades side of things. So, ya know, if you're looking for a double dose of a horrible song, this Blu-ray's gotcha covered.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Hands of Stone is a decent biopic carried by some solid acting. Writer/director Jonathan Jakubowicz tries a little too hard to fit in Robert Duran's entire life story, but the results are entertaining, at the very least. It won't win any awards, and can't stand in the ring with the likes of Creed, but it should scratch that boxing itch. Definitely worth a rental if the story and actors intrigue you.
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