“Hands of Stone,” directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, is another good addition to the boxing film genre. Telling the story of Roberto Duran, known as one of the greatest boxers of all time originating from Guarare, Panama, the film is full of Panamanian culture and shows us his rise to greatness.
Venezuelan filmmaker Jonathan Jakubowicz takes us to the root of Duran’s passion, pride and fighting spirit, showing us what life in Panama was like during Duran’s rise. Actor Edgar Ramirez is likeable as Duran, showing off the flair and flavor of a man who rose from rags to riches. Duran is full of pride for his country and has ego for his own boxing ability.
Robert De Niro and Ana De Armas are good support for the film.
De Niro’s character, Ray Arcel, brought a nice balance to Roberto’s more aggressive and outward attributes as his boxing trainer.
De Armas as Roberto’s wife, Felicidad Iglesias, was a sexy match to Ramirez and held her own with quick rapport.
Stephanie Arcel (Ellie Barkin), though only seen a few times as Ray Arcel’s wife, does a good job of bringing the strength and comedy of a stern but compassionate wife.
As for the technical things: the movie has a great pace, moving quickly between dialogue to the more action-filled boxing scenes. The boxing sequences had great moments, although a few matches can be seen as lackluster while waiting for those moments to happen, similar to real-life boxing matches.
It was true to the sport, but I came for a film, not an actual contest. Luckily, they move along fast enough that the more impactful hits come in like a knockout. The movie never felt slow at all, even in the quieter scenes.
My only real criticism of the film is that I wanted more. Though balanced and well-paced, the film left me feeling unfulfilled. It needed more of Duran and more boxing.