By Liz Lopez

Rating: B+

The film Hands of Stone written, directed and produced by Jonathan Jakubowicz (Secuestro express) is a biopic that has plenty of action and drama as it follows the life of Panamanian Roberto Duran from his childhood life of poverty, how he helped his family, and becomes a fighter who makes his professional debut as a teen in 1968. The story follows him through retirement in 2002 and does not only focus on Duran, as it also informs the viewer about Carlos Eleta who knows Ray Arcel, an American who becomes Duran’s trainer. These relationships are very important to Duran, as well as with his wife, Felicidad Iglesias to whom he is still married to this date.

I have read comments made to where this film is called a “Latino film” and I am not sure why it is labeled as such. The film is about a sports legend born in Panama to an American soldier who was stationed in that country and did not pursue making arrangements for Roberto and his mother when he shipped out, or thereafter. Despite the level of poverty, he had talent to become a boxing champion in America. Yes, Duran is portrayed by Edgar Ramirez, and alongside him is De Niro (Raging Bull) as Arcel, and Usher Raymond who has the role of Sugar Ray Leonard. Usher also provided the film’s theme track.

Cuban actress Ana de Armas has the role of Duran’s wife, and Oscar Jaenada (Cantinflas) portrays Chaflan, an older friend of Duran’s and his friends during their childhood, who was often entertaining. Rubén Blades is excellent as Carlos Eleta who helped in steering Duran’s career, despite challenges.

I recommend this film for fans of this sport, as well as for individuals who want to learn more about this athlete’s engaging story, rising to fame, but not forgetting to give back to the less fortunate in his country as he earned his millions. This is a good story with great performances worthy of my movie bucks.

Ben Silverman and Latino film producer, Costa Rican-native Jay Weisleder’s newly formed Fuego Films celebrate the theatrical release of Hands of Stone, the first of two biopics about Hispanic athletes. This is to be followed by the film Clemente about Puerto Rican baseball hero, Roberto Clemente. Fuego Films has plans to have a diverse slate across studios and indies.

Hands of Stone has a nationwide theatrical release by The Weinstein Company on Friday, August 26th.

MPAA Rating: R

Runtime: 105 min

Source: Fuego Films, The Weinstein Company

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