I’m holding out hope, even though current signs are not healthy. For one thing, The Weinstein Company is burying it. Late August opening? That’s a studio dumping ground–the only thing worse would’ve been Labor Day weekend. Plus, it appears to have a running time of only 105 minutes. A film about the epic five-decade career of Roberto “Manos de Piedra” Duran? A buck forty-five? You could do a entire miniseries on him! Also, this movie was apparently in the can since 2014. What was the holdup? I guess I should be pleased that they’ve even made a feature film about, perhaps, the greatest Hispanic boxing champion ever…but I remain wary. Fantastic seems unlikely, but maybe it will be pretty good.
“Hands of Stone” is based on a damn fine book, of the same name, by Christian Giudice–I highly recommend that you read that if you are a boxing fan. It exhaustively covers Duran’s (played by talented Edgar Ramirez) legendary career, whereas I’ve read that the film has the typical Hollywood character arc. It apparently includes Roberto’s first title-winning effort against lightweight champion Ken Buchanan (played by ex-middleweight contender, John Duddy), soon followed by his welterweight title-winning victory over “Sugar Ray” Leonard (pop star Usher!). After that, the disgraceful “No Mas” rematch, followed by redemption with junior middleweight king, Davey Moore (Israel Isaac Duffus). The arc makes sense, even though Duran fought for almost two decades after all of that. Oh, and “Hands of Stone” sports a little-known actor by the name of Robert De Niro as Duran’s long-time trainer, Ray Arcel. And Reg E. Cathey is Don King. Mr. Cathey usually brings the goods. The film opens wide on August 26th, and was written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz. Ellen Barkin, John Turturro, and Ruben Blades also star. Like I said, holding out hope.