A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hands of Stone is a biopic about great Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez). In the style of Rocky, Hands features extensive footage of boxers in the ring, brutally pounding each other as slow-motion camerawork and thudding sounds make the impact clear. Sweat and spit fly, and boxers wince, fall, and get swollen faces and eyes. Two other violent scenes center around Duran's wife: when he meets her, he flirts with her before chasing her and cornering her against a wall, asking her to marry him as she cowers, then responds. Much later, during a fight, he chases her and pulls her to the ground, where she cuts her hand on broken glass before fleeing. In another sexually violent and menacing scene, Duran insults a fellow boxer, telling his wife he's going to "f--k" her husband up in the ring, then "f--k" her at night, an act for which he apologizes late in the movie. U.S. soldiers fire guns to scare a young Panamanian boy. Frequent language includes "f--k," "s--t," "schmuck," "prick," and the "N" word. Adults drink at parties, often getting sloppy and violent. One character smokes a cigarette.
What's the story?
HANDS OF STONE is the story of Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez), a Panamanian boxer widely regarded as one of the greatest of all time, and the trainer, Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro) who makes him a world champion. But at the movie's start, Duran is just another poor kid stealing mangoes from the territory held by menacing U.S. soldiers who are guarding the Panama Canal. They shoot guns in the air near the young boy to shoo him away and set off riots amongst Panamanians protesting their U.S. occupation. Against this backdrop, scrappy Duran begins his career with street fights, gaining the notice of the richest man in Panama, Carlos Eleta (Rubén Blades), who sets Duran up with Arcel. Some of boxing's most famous matches follow, including the notorious 1980 bout with Sugar Ray Leonard in which Duran quit mid-match, dubbed the "No Más Fight" by sportscasters. Duran is ready to give up boxing forever. But he's able to fight one more match with a young contender, redeeming himself in the eyes of his family, his country, and his coach.
Is it any good?
The outlines of Roberto Duran's life are clear to anyone who can look him up on Wikipedia; this bio-pic fills in those outlines in vivid, unmerciful color. The boxer doesn't always come off as a nice guy in Hands of Stone: The scenes in which he threatens Sugar Ray Leonard and his wife with sexual violence are horrifying, as are the scenes in which Duran menaces and harms his own wife, who disturbingly seems to respond to what looks a lot like stalking upon their first meeting. Yet Duran's story is powerfully told, with much of the story's action set in vintage Panama, a place of tin roofs and bustling markets, locals dancing to drum music and grim-faced soldiers lining up against the fence that separates U.S. territory from Panama's. Against this backdrop, Duran's machismo and violence makes sense: It was either fight or sink into poverty.
This film will most strongly appeal, no doubt, to boxing fans, who'll be thrilled at titles like "Duran vs. Leonard" flashing onscreen while swooping, beautiful crane shots take in the ring and the cheering, chanting crowd around it, all eyes directed on the two men in satin shorts. Duran is a complicated figure, it's true, with a complicated past that the film depicts honestly. But in the ring, he's an artist, which even non-sports fans can see.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the boxing violence in Hands of Stone. How does it compare to the kind of violence depicted in other movies? Do different types of violence have different impact?
What are some of the expected scenes/plot points in a boxing movie? Does Hands of Stone handle those well? Why do you think training montages, pep talks, and coach-athlete relationships are included in most movies about serious athletes?
Is Roberto Duran depicted as a hero in this movie? At one point, Ray Arcel explicitly tells Duran how a hero behaves -- and how Duran has failed. Does Duran redeem himself in Ray's eyes? In the eyes of the audience?
What do you think about the way Duran's marriage is portrayed? What dynamics affect their relationship?
- In theaters: August 26, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: November 22, 2016
- Cast: Robert De Niro, Ana de Armas, Edgar Ramirez
- Director: Jonathan Jakubowicz
- Studio: The Weinstein Company
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language throughout and some sexuality/nudity
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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