Like most biopics, this one typically depicts the rise and fall of a slum child of Panama; a boxing prodigy who goes on to win 22 of the 25 odd fights he participates in. Mentored by Ray Arcel (Robert De Niro), Duran who has ” hands of stone” invariably beats his opponents, winning countless titles in his 34-year-long career. However, this isn’t just one of those sport-dramas that don’t travel too far from the arena. The director insightfully captures Duran as the enfant terrible of boxing world and also showcases his prowess as a lover. Though slightly over-the-top, the film has heart. Juxtaposed against the tumultuous equation between Panama and the US, with the Panama Canal being a bone a contention, the plot cleverly runs through the emotions of an underdog nation that falls prey to America’s guile.
Edgar Ramirez is first-rate, in the ring and outside it. De Niro also shows his mettle as a world-class actor.
On the downside, the boxing matches start to feel repetitive. It is said that, “Ring sense is an art”. Well, Duran was blessed with it from the day he was born.
Ana de Armas, who plays Felicidad, the blonde school girl who Duran marries and raises a family with, is adept. As is Ellen Barkin, who shows up in a brief but effective part as Arcel’s wife. Miguel Ioann Littin Menz’s camera work is good and the fight choreography by Rick Avery is rhythmic. This is certainly no Raging Bull. However, if you can invest in a boxer who is boisterous and bratty, Duran may hold your interest.