Play It To The Bone


Directed by: Ron Shelton
Written by:Ron Shelton
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Woody Harrelson, Lolita Davidovich, Tom Sizemore, Lucy Liu, Robert Wagner
Released: October 12, 2000
Grade: B-

There’s nothing like a big fight night in Las Vegas to bring the celebs out and everyone’s geared up to watch Mike Tyson flatten his latest opponent.  Fight organiser Joe Domino (Sizemore) is geared up too but when his one of his undercard fighters ends up dead and the other overdoses on the day of the fight, he’s left with nothing to provide the preliminary entertainment.

Begrudgingly, he calls two old friends Vince (Harrelson) and Cesar (Banderas), both who he’s screwed over in the past - such is the world of professional boxing.  Both are best friends and still in the game but their careers are slowly fading away.  Domino promises them $50,000 each plus the winner getting a shot at the world title if they agree to come down to Vegas to fight each other for the first time.  We have ourselves a contest.

I’ve seen several films in this vein with note going to The Great White Hype.  Most of the film is set on the road as the two drive across America with former flame Grace (Davidovich).  They reflect back on their career, swear a lot and have a bizarre adventure with a sex-craved Asian (Liu) along the way.

Without doubt the most interesting parts of Play It To The Bone are those set in Las Vegas.  The opening credits are a series of helicopter shots taken around Vegas and they look spectacular and make you appreciate just how big a city it really is.  All the background conniving and backstabbing from Domino and his offsiders are hilarious as they take a big stab at the boxing world.  As Domino says when asked how he’d ratify this fight he says, just let me make a couple of calls and I can get anyone ranked.

The impending fight scene at the end was a touch overdone and had some obscure camerawork but the action itself combined with the make-up by Ken Chase gives you one of those realistic, sporty adrenaline rushes as you anticipate and predict who will be the victor.

Boxing is always an interesting topic on the big screen but it’s a shame the two most boring characters (Vince and Cesar) had all the screen time.  Too much time is wasted getting to the “punch” and with most of the humour having been seen before, Play It To The Bone winds up being just another one of those films that comes along and passes by with little fanfare.