Every year, it seems Robert De Niro tests his fans. First, he made Meet the Parents and its subsequent sequels. Then, he did Last Vegas, and The Intern, and, most recently, Dirty Grandpa. Then, he went and tested us with his usually untouchable Tribeca Film Fest, which was at the center of controversy thanks to an anti-vaccination film they admitted into the festival — and then pulled from the festival. (De Niro later said he still wants people to see the film.) Still, after all of that, there might be hope!
Today saw the release of the teaser for an upcoming boxing biopic, Hands of Stone. In it, De Niro stars as Ray Arcel, the trainer for world-champion lightweight boxer Roberto Duran (Edgar Ramirez). The film also stars Ellen Barkin, John Turturro, and Usher Raymond (better known as pop star Usher) as Sugar Ray Leonard, who eventually faces off against Duran. It was written and directed by Venezuelan filmmaker Jonathan Jakubowicz, and this is his first major film that’ll see a wide release.
The film is titled after Duran’s nickname, which he was given, as one could easily guess, because of his remarkably strong punches. He’s still considered one of the all-time best lightweight boxers, and his rivalry with Leonard is the stuff of legend. After defeating Leonard in 1980, Duran apparently partied too hard and put on a ton of weight, which handicapped him incredibly when Leonard challenged him to a rematch the following year. Because he was out of shape at the time of the fight, he was dominated pretty fiercely. So much so that, in the eighth round, he refused to fight, giving up his title.
It’s an interesting story that promises an unorthodox take on a biopic, so long as the movie actually follows history. Even then, Duran retired after a car accident, at the age of 50, which is still a pretty unusual note for a film to end on.
Watch the brief teaser below. The film is set for an August 26 release.