Play it to the Bone
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2000
`Play It To The Bone' is really two movies. One is a movie about boxing and the other is a comedic character study of the boxers. As a boxing film, it succeeds nicely. As a comedy it has its moments. As a character study, it hits the canvas hard.
The storyline was sort of `Rocky' times two. Two washed up middleweight boxers Vince and Cesar (Woody Harrelson and Antonio Banderas), who are also best friends, get a last minute chance to fight in Las Vegas on the undercard of a Mike Tyson heavyweight bout when the two scheduled fighters are unable to fight. They are promised that the winner will get a chance to fight for the championship, but they have to be in Las Vegas tonight. The trouble is, they have to fight each other.
So they climb into a car with Cesar's girlfriend (and Vince's ex-girlfriend) Grace (Lolita Davidovich) and drive from L.A. to Las Vegas. Most of the rest of the movie is about the drive followed by the fight.
Director Ron Shelton has had quite a few sports oriented success stories to his credit (Bull Durham, White Men Can't Jump and Tin Cup). The best part of the film was the boxing. The boxing was well choreographed and both actors were athletic and fought like real boxers. Shelton was also excellent at creating the feel of a boxing match. Anyone who has ever watched an HBO bout will recognize ring announcers Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant and George Foreman. Mike Tyson made a cameo as well as numerous celebrity boxing fans (Kevin Costner, Rod Stewart, Wesley Snipes and a host of others). The makeup for the cuts and puffiness was also very realistic.
Unfortunately, the rest of the film was not as good as the fight. Shelton spends a good deal of time developing the characters, but it is all for naught because they have no substance. They are two hapless jocks, obvious mental lightweights, who spend most of the trip to Las Vegas fighting over Grace, cutting up and strutting around like peacocks. Shelton takes great pains to try to make us love these characters equally by making them equally pathetic. But that doesn't work because it leaves the audience without anyone to pull for in the fight. The ending is utterly predictable and the film whimpers off into the sunset with no more than a stagger.
Banderas and Harrelson both gave journeyman performances. They had good chemistry and some decent comedy between them, but there was nothing special here. The best performance by far was by Davidovich who transcended her normal sex kitten role and took command of the entire film with a character that was a manipulative vixen. She was smart, tough and sexy, and dominated every scene. Once again, she shows that she is talented as well as attractive, which makes me wonder why she has never gotten roles that are more substantial.
This is a tough one to rate because it does some things very well and other things poorly. I gave it a 6/10. It had some good comedic moments, but not enough of them. It had some excellent boxing scenes, but a disappointing outcome. In addition, the character study simply failed due to vacant characters. If you like boxing, Harrelson, Banderas or especially Davidovich, you will enjoy this film. Otherwise, enter at your own risk.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2004
This film has been knocked down more times than Dominguez and Boudreau in the climatic final fight scene. Sure the story was a bit uneven, but I still liked this quirky buddy/road trip movie for its unexpected and offbeat take that includes a seamier side of professional boxing. Antonio Banderas and Woody Harrelson are likeable stars and I thought they played off each other very well. While Harrelson is known to shift effortlessly from dramatic to comedic roles and back again, this was the first time I saw a lighter, more humorous side of Banderas and I thought he acquitted himself very well. Talented and sexy Lolita Davidovich as their street smart and savvy love interest was as much a welcomed casting choice as Lucy Liu's was a total waste of time other than being the object of Harrelson's vivid backseat description of her femininity prior to a hilarious if impromptu and primitive tryst. A host of cameo appearances fill out the rest of the card. Don't bring high expectations to the match and you won't be unduly disappointed, and you just may be mildly entertained for 2 hours.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2000
This slow moving movie, at least the first two thirds makes one want to hit the stop button and put another disk in the player. Even though the lead parts are decently acted they cannot sustain a screen play that is saturated with high school, crude, gratuitous humor. It tells the story of two down and out fighters who get a last minute chance to fight on the undercard of a heavyweight fight that is being televised world wide.
Harrelson and Bandaras overplay their roles, the best performance comes from the sexy Lolita Davidovitch. She carries this weak theme with a long car ride from LA to Vegas. An unbearably long ride. For some odd reason there is a homophobic theme throughout. The Asian woman that is picked up along the way is a silly, meaningless part, especially when she ends up in a very absurd sex scene with Harrelson.
The fight scenes are well done but the bloody parts reek of ketchup and look phoney as is the imagery. The ending is predictable. A lot of talented people put this movie together but it does not succeed.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2000
The fight scenes in this moive were very good but the lack of action and the boring drive to the fight made this film not as good as it could have been. Boxing fans will recognize lots of big named extras at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, where the big fight scene takes palce. I enjoyed the soundtrack very much too.
This movie was a good rental but nothing you would want to watch a second time or own.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2000
Antonio Banderas & Woody Harelson Play well against one another in a very funny and poignent film about friendship and the competive nature of professinal Boxing. Ceaser and Vince are two down on their luck prizefighters who get a chance of a lifetime to win $100.00 dollers in a highly publiced match problem is its agasint one another. True friendship is tested when their on the road together. Great lines delivered from Banderas & Harrelson, these two are cast well in their roles. The Director Ron Shelton who made sport-comedies in the past has scored again with 'PLAY IT TO THE BONE' And it was much more funnier than TIN CUP Back in 1996.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2000
..."What happened?" I mean, this is the man that gave us "White Men Can't Jump" and "Bull Durham." The ending was ludicrous. Shelton isn't known for taking the easy way out in his movies. Still, it's worth 3 stars: one apiece for Lolita Davidovich and Lucy Liu, and one for the spectacular camera work in the fight between Harrelson and Banderas.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2000
At the beginning of this movie I was wide-awake but about 45 mins into the movie I could feel myself falling asleep. This movie doesn't really do anything for me until the last 50 mins. But before that all it is is a boring road trip that last forever and isn't funny. I loved the boxing scenes b/c they were brutal and it reminded me of Rocky and Raging Bull. I kinda predicted the outcome of the match halfway into the fight but it was still fun watching them beat each other up. If you love Banderas and Harrelson then you might like this movie more than I do, but if u don't, don't see it. Last words, I wouldn't buy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2000
With this movie being as bad as it was it is no surprise that it was only in theaters for about a week. Woody was way out of the caliber of performances that we all know that he can do. Antonio was about the same in this movie as he has been in all of his other pahtetic films. Lucy Liu may be attractive, but it is not worth having to watch this attrocious film just for her.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2009
Wow, can't believe so many people did not like this movie. I absolutely love it. This is what I watch the night before I have a fight (I compete in kickboxing). I think the characters have alot of depth to them and the fight at the end of the movie is really well choreographed. This is a 5 star movie in my book and always recommend it to my friends.
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on September 10, 2010
I must confess at first to be a Ron Shelton fan. I like his triangle love stories. Most loved Bull Durham and Tin Cup. Antonio Banderas and Wooy Harrelson make a likeable couple who both love the same woman - Lolita Davidovich. The men are friends and colleagues both being not really successful professional boxers. The triangle's journey to Las Vegas allows to get aquainted with and fall for the three characters. Everything leads to the final fight where the both have to fight against each other. And they play it to the bone. I am not a boxing fan and I am very glad that the both actually did not have to hurt each other in reality but these scenes are very beautifully set into scene. Tin Cup already had some cameo roles and Ron Shelton brought it to the boil on this movie - Kevin Costner (leading actor on Tin Cup and Bull Durham),Whesley Snipes, Tony Curtis, Rod Stuart, Mike Tyson, George Foreman and many more throw in celibrity power to this boxing event. Worth watching it even when you don't like boxing. And - women - this is a movie for us too!!!
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