3 minute preview: ‘Hands of Stone’

hands-of-stoneWho’s in it and what’s it about?

Retired boxing coach Ray Arcel is coaxed back into professional life when he is invited to work with raw, talented Panamanian fighter Roberto Duran.

As related by the biopic, and under the tutelage of Arcel, Duran progressed to the point where he was pitted against the then-undefeated champion Sugar Ray Leonard.

Robert de Niro of “Raging Bull” and “Grudge Match” plays Arcel, with Édgar Ramírez of “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Carlos” as Duran.

It’s eight-time Grammy Award winner Usher Raymond IV, better known by his forename, who arrives from “Scary Movie 5” and “Muppets Most Wanted” to become Sugar Ray, while Jurnee Smollett-Bell (“Underground,” “True Blood,”) Ellen Barkin (“Animal Kingdom,”) Rubén Blades (“Fear the Walking Dead,”) Ana de Armas (“War Dogs”) and John Turturro (“Transformers” 1-3) are also involved.

Another boxing biopic, “Bleed for This,” is due from November 2016, and has “War Dogs” co-star Miles Teller as Vinny Paz, who ran up a 2-0 record against Duran during the final decade of the latter’s 34-year career.

Who’s behind it?

Jonathan Jakubowicz had previously cast Rubén Blades in crime thriller “Secuestro Express,” and though “Hands of Stone” is only his first feature film since then, and his third ever, the Venezuelan director is understood to be working on a remake of the western “The Wild Bunch” for Warner Bros.

Is it any good?

“Hands of Stone” debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May, as part of a celebration of Robert De Niro’s career.

Reviewers present received it as a decent if not genre-defining biopic charting Duran’s life in and out of the ring.

“Far from perfect, but it punches above its weight enough to prevent it from being easily dismissed,” concluded The Hollywood Reporter.

“At times, ‘Hands Of Stone’ may be a rote retelling of a great fighter’s career, but Ramírez keeps us in Duran’s corner,” wrote Screen Daily.

When’s it out?

A US debut on August 26 comes one day after its Singaporean release; worldwide distribution deals are expected to follow with a handful of European openings already arranged for September.

-AFP Relaxnews