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PLAY IT TO THE BONE

SYNOPSIS:
Best friends and former professional boxers Vince Boudreau (Woody Harrelson) and Cesar Dominguez (Antonio Banderas) are offered the chance to fight on the undercard of a Mike Tyson title fight in Las Vegas. Contracted by unscrupulous promoter Lou Domino (Tom Sizemore) on the day of the fight, the duo drive to Vegas with Vince's former girlfriend Grace (Lolita Davidovitch), who is now involved with Cesar. Along the way they pick up spaced-out hooker Lia (Lucy Liu). With a purse of $100,000 to share and a guaranteed title shot for the winner, the two welterweights must overcome personal demons as they face each other in the ring for the first time.

Watching Play It To The Bone is like being stuck in a Raging Bull fight scene with no escape. The basic idea of having best buddies square up to each other in the fight of their lives isn't too bad but the execution by sports film specialist Ron Shelton (Tin Cup, Bull Durham, White Men Can't Jump etc) is misjudged at the very least. The road trip which occupies the first hour and a quarter of an overlong two hour film has more in common with Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas than a sports/buddy movie. The quirky character traits of Vince and Cesar are extracted from desperation rather than inspiration. We expect the talk to revolve heavily around sex but having Cesar admit to being gay for exactly a year of his life - "I experimented with all kinds of things" - is a lead balloon of an idea. Maybe Shelton thought it believable because of Banderas' association with Almodovar... Harrelson, who looks like he's still in Natural Born Killers, is a Jesus freak with convictions for assault and drugs. His southern-fried highway evangelism is tedious and unconvincing. Just when we can't take any more of the two stooges, or surrogate mother Davidovitch (ok in a thankless role) and hooker Lucy Liu when they start feudin', fussin' and fightin', it's time for the real fight in Vegas. There we learn that Davidovitch is also an inventor of....wait for it...a periscope device for watching TV in bed. Does she seriously think she can get rich by this? After so many zany road movie antics the tone switches dramatically and disastrously as Banderas and Harrelson hit the ring for the most bloody, bruising and sickening fight you've ever seen.... and it just won't stop. Any slight goodwill is destroyed in a sequence in which Davidovitch yells out "stop the fight". That's what we've been saying from the start but it's too late to save this film which is bound to give the dubious "sport" of boxing an even worse name, if that's possible."
Richard Kuipers

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

PLAY IT TO THE BONE (MA)
(US)

CAST: Antonio Banderas, Woody Harrelson, Lolita Davidovitch, Tom Sizemore, Lucy Alexis Liu, Robert Wagner

DIRECTOR: Ron Shelton

PRODUCER: Stephen Chin

SCRIPT: Ron Shelton

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mark Vargo

EDITOR: Patrick Flannery, Paul Seydor

MUSIC: Alex Wurman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Claire Jenora Bowin

RUNNING TIME: 124 min

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: October 12, 2000







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