‘Hands of Stone’ is a well-filmed and solid biopic
Robert De Niro, Rubén Blades, and Edgar Ramírez in “Hands of Stone.” (AP Images)
By Signal Contributor
Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

The legendary Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran has lived a life — and had a fight career — far more complex and polarizing than what we see onscreen in “Hands of Stone,” but this is still one of the more entertaining boxing pictures of the last decade.

I’m not saying this isn’t a solid picture. I’m just saying if you enjoy this film but you don’t know a ton about Duran, wait until you read up on him and watch documentaries such as “Roberto Duran: Beyond the Glory” or ESPN’s “30 for 30” titled “No Mas.”

Writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz’s “Hands of Stone” is a rousing, well-filmed and solid (if at times overly generous to Duran) biopic with a bounty of charismatic performances, two of the sexier scenes of the year, some welcome laughs and a few above-average fight sequences.

Among the film’s strengths:

— Edgar Ramirez in a true star turn as Duran. From the moment we see the street kid in bell bottoms strutting through the streets of Panama to his meteoric rise to adored world champion, to his self-destructive bouts with gluttony, his hedonistic excess, his misogynistic rants and the moment in the ring when he brought shame upon himself and his country, Ramirez captures the essence of the enigmatic Duran.

— Robert De Niro, who of course starred in and won an Oscar for his work in the greatest boxing picture of all time with “Raging Bull” in 1980, going a long way toward wiping our memories of the regrettable “Grudge Match” with a warm, authentic, heartfelt performance as Ray Arcel, the legendary Jewish-American boxing trainer who became a father figure to Duran and helped guide him from raw talent to one of great boxers of the 20th century.

— The pop star Usher, aided by just the right amount of prosthetics, turning in a brilliant supporting turn as the dashing, fleet-footed, charismatic and well-spoken Sugar Ray Leonard, who is everything the illiterate Duran is not, and is the perfect villain — or is it hero — to go up against Roberto in two epic bouts in 1980.

To this day, Duran insists he never said “no mas!” (“no more!”) when he turned his back on the dominating Leonard in the eighth round of their World Welterweight Championship rematch bout in 1980 and quit in the middle of the fight, stunning the boxing world.

Duran never seemed to understand that was never the point. It wasn’t whether he SAID “no mas.” It’s that he quit.

To Duran’s credit, he did climb back into the ring, and he did win back the love of the Panamanian people and the respect of the boxing world — and then about three more movies’ worth of stuff happened in his life.

In the meantime, we have THIS movie, and as such, it’s a solid TKO.

About the author

Signal Contributor

Signal Contributor

Robert De Niro, Rubén Blades, and Edgar Ramírez in “Hands of Stone.” (AP Images)

‘Hands of Stone’ is a well-filmed and solid biopic

The legendary Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran has lived a life — and had a fight career — far more complex and polarizing than what we see onscreen in “Hands of Stone,” but this is still one of the more entertaining boxing pictures of the last decade.

I’m not saying this isn’t a solid picture. I’m just saying if you enjoy this film but you don’t know a ton about Duran, wait until you read up on him and watch documentaries such as “Roberto Duran: Beyond the Glory” or ESPN’s “30 for 30” titled “No Mas.”

Writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz’s “Hands of Stone” is a rousing, well-filmed and solid (if at times overly generous to Duran) biopic with a bounty of charismatic performances, two of the sexier scenes of the year, some welcome laughs and a few above-average fight sequences.

Among the film’s strengths:

— Edgar Ramirez in a true star turn as Duran. From the moment we see the street kid in bell bottoms strutting through the streets of Panama to his meteoric rise to adored world champion, to his self-destructive bouts with gluttony, his hedonistic excess, his misogynistic rants and the moment in the ring when he brought shame upon himself and his country, Ramirez captures the essence of the enigmatic Duran.

— Robert De Niro, who of course starred in and won an Oscar for his work in the greatest boxing picture of all time with “Raging Bull” in 1980, going a long way toward wiping our memories of the regrettable “Grudge Match” with a warm, authentic, heartfelt performance as Ray Arcel, the legendary Jewish-American boxing trainer who became a father figure to Duran and helped guide him from raw talent to one of great boxers of the 20th century.

— The pop star Usher, aided by just the right amount of prosthetics, turning in a brilliant supporting turn as the dashing, fleet-footed, charismatic and well-spoken Sugar Ray Leonard, who is everything the illiterate Duran is not, and is the perfect villain — or is it hero — to go up against Roberto in two epic bouts in 1980.

To this day, Duran insists he never said “no mas!” (“no more!”) when he turned his back on the dominating Leonard in the eighth round of their World Welterweight Championship rematch bout in 1980 and quit in the middle of the fight, stunning the boxing world.

Duran never seemed to understand that was never the point. It wasn’t whether he SAID “no mas.” It’s that he quit.

To Duran’s credit, he did climb back into the ring, and he did win back the love of the Panamanian people and the respect of the boxing world — and then about three more movies’ worth of stuff happened in his life.

In the meantime, we have THIS movie, and as such, it’s a solid TKO.

Upcoming Events

Jan
12
Fri
all-day Domes – Art Exhibit @ Old Town Newhall Library
Domes – Art Exhibit @ Old Town Newhall Library
Jan 12 – May 11 all-day
Domes - Art Exhibit @ Old Town Newhall Library | Santa Clarita | California | United States
Local resident Naomi Young, is the artist featured in the latest exhibit at the Old Town Newhall Library. The exhibit features original paintings and multimedia by Young, an artist born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel,[...]
Feb
1
Thu
all-day “The Golden Oaks of Santa Clarit... @ Valencia Library
“The Golden Oaks of Santa Clarit... @ Valencia Library
Feb 1 – Jun 1 all-day
“The Golden Oaks of Santa Clarita,” Art Exhibit @ Valencia Library  | Santa Clarita | California | United States
“THE GOLDEN OAKS OF SANTA CLARITA” ART EXHIBIT BY BRAD SERGI ON DISPLAY AT THE VALENCIA LIBRARY Library hours: Mon-Thu 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Fri 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. – 5[...]
Feb
14
Wed
all-day Tickets Available Now for 41st A... @ Dodger Stadium
Tickets Available Now for 41st A... @ Dodger Stadium
Feb 14 – May 12 all-day
Tickets Available Now for 41st Annual SCV Dodger Day @ Dodger Stadium | Los Angeles | California | United States
SANTA CLARITA DODGER DAY TICKETS ON SALE NOW! Tickets Start at $25 and Benefit Local Schools and Non-Profits It’s time to step up to the plate! The Santa Clarita City Council invites residents to purchase[...]
Apr
19
Thu
all-day Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Apr 19 – Apr 22 all-day
BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW FOR COWBOY FESTIVAL CONCERTS – Locations, Times & Prices Vary 25th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival offers ticketed performances and special events Get ready for some toe-tapping, two-stepping, guitar-picking musical performances![...]
7:00 pm Hart High School Presents ‘Bye, ... @ Hart High school Auditorium
Hart High School Presents ‘Bye, ... @ Hart High school Auditorium
Apr 19 @ 7:00 pm
Hart High School Presents 'Bye, Bye Birdie' @ Hart High school Auditorium | Santa Clarita | California | United States
Spring Musical Coming April 2018! Hart High Theatre is proud to present Bye Bye Birdie! April 19, 20, 27 & 28 @ 7pm April 28 & 29 @ 1pm When the draft selects rock star[...]
Apr
20
Fri
all-day Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Apr 20 – Apr 23 all-day
BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW FOR COWBOY FESTIVAL CONCERTS – Locations, Times & Prices Vary 25th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival offers ticketed performances and special events Get ready for some toe-tapping, two-stepping, guitar-picking musical performances![...]
7:00 pm Hart High School Presents ‘Bye, ... @ Hart High school Auditorium
Hart High School Presents ‘Bye, ... @ Hart High school Auditorium
Apr 20 @ 7:00 pm
Hart High School Presents 'Bye, Bye Birdie' @ Hart High school Auditorium | Santa Clarita | California | United States
Spring Musical Coming April 2018! Hart High Theatre is proud to present Bye Bye Birdie! April 19, 20, 27 & 28 @ 7pm April 28 & 29 @ 1pm When the draft selects rock star[...]
Apr
21
Sat
all-day Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival Co... @ Event Locations Vary
Apr 21 – Apr 24 all-day
BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW FOR COWBOY FESTIVAL CONCERTS – Locations, Times & Prices Vary 25th Annual Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival offers ticketed performances and special events Get ready for some toe-tapping, two-stepping, guitar-picking musical performances![...]
10:00 am Astronomy Day @ Valencia Library
Astronomy Day @ Valencia Library
Apr 21 @ 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
The Local Group Astronomy Club and The Santa Clarita Public Library present our free annual Astronomy Day Celebration. We will be at the Valencia branch of the Santa Clarita Public Library from 10am to 3pm.[...]
10:00 am Resource Parents Needed to Foste... @ College of the Canyons, Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, Room 222
Resource Parents Needed to Foste... @ College of the Canyons, Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, Room 222
Apr 21 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Resource Parents Needed to Foster or Foster-Adopt a Child @ College of the Canyons, Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, Room 222 | Santa Clarita | California | United States
Adoption is a meaningful way for individuals and couples to fulfill their dream of parenting.  There are approximately 64,000 children in foster care in California.  Los Angeles County’s foster care population exceeds 21,000 children with[...]