Vince Boudreau (Woody Harrelson - White Men Can't Jump, The People Vs. Larry Flynt) and Cesar Dominguez (Antonio Banderas - Desperado, The Mask of Zorro) are best buddies whose careers as professional boxers are on the downswing. Fortunately for them, the undercard for the Mike Tyson match tonight just lost its scheduled fighters to a car accident and a drug overdose. If Vince and Cesar can make it from L.A. to Vegas by Showtime, they'll be paid to fight for the first time in years, facing each other, with a title shot going to the winner.
Vince's ex and Cesar's current gal Grace Pasic (Lolita Davidovich - Blaze, Cobb) agrees to drive them in the hopes that she'll find an investor to fund one of her wacky inventions at the fight. A long-standing rivalry becomes increasingly heated between Vince and Cesar as the trip progresses, jockeying for a psychological edge and Grace's attention. Add free-spirited hitchhiker Lia (Lucy Liu - Ally McBeal) to the mix, and Grace's feisty disposition turns downright spicy. A couple of decent laughs aren't nearly enough to sustain what drags into a tiresome majority of the film. The bout itself proves to be a monumental battle, with both fighters delivering and sustaining almost inconceivable punishment in their quest for victory.
The central flaw of Play It to the Bone is its failing to convince the audience to care about its characters. The bout itself is less than climactic because by then it doesn't matter who wins or loses. While Harrelson and Davidovich do a fine job with their parts, I found myself less likely to wince at the graphic depiction of the boxing match than Banderas' performance as an actor. If you're looking for a good boxing movie, head to the video store for a copy of Raging Bull.
Watch it, punchy.
Run time: 124 mins
In Theaters: Friday 21st January 2000
Box Office Worldwide: $8.4M
Production compaines: Touchstone Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 12%
Fresh: 9 Rotten: 69
IMDB: 5.4 / 10
Director: Ron Shelton
Producer: Stephen Chin
Screenwriter: Ron Shelton
Starring: Antonio Banderas as Cesar Dominguez, Woody Harrelson as Vince Boudreau, Lolita Davidovich as Grace Pasic, Tom Sizemore as Joe Domino, Lucy Liu as Lia, Robert Wagner as Hank Goody, Richard Masur as Artie, Willie Garson as Cappie Caplan, Cylk Cozart as Rudy, Jack Carter as Dante Solomon, Aida Turturro as Mad Greek Waitress, Dana Lee as Man with Ferrari, Mike Tyson as Himself, Kevin Costner as Himself (Ringside Fan), Wesley Snipes as Himself (Ringside Fan), James Woods as Himself (Ringside Fan), Natasha Gregson Wagner as Herself (Ringside Fan), Drew Carey as Himself (Ringside Fan), Jennifer Tilly as Herself (Ringside Fan), Tony Curtis as Himself (Ringside Fan), Gennifer Flowers as Party Guest, Linnea Quigley as Overdosed Hooker, Rod Stewart as Himself