An Empty Box
Play It to the Bone
Review by Ross Anthony

There is little of interest in the first third of this film beyond pretentiously quirky characters spewing meant-to-be-cute retorts at cliché beats, devoid of punch.

Then comes Antonio Banderas' monologue. He intimately relives a scarring fight experience at the garden. It's "Bone's" breath of life. From there, the beat becomes more personal, the retorts more endearing, a few even evoke deep laughter from this previously antsy viewer.

Used-to-be's, Banderas and Harrelson, now boxing buddies (who supposedly have never fought each other) stumble across an opportunity to clear their good names -- and of course, win a title shot. Lolita Davidovich plays the domineering ex-girl who routes for them both.

The film crowns during the fight scene (big match between Woody and Antonio) as many a star make a ringside cameos. This lengthy sequence is so passionately directed and photographed, that it seems the rest of the film is merely a convenient frame for its display.

I use the word "crown" instead of climax, because the picture never quite pops. The writers seem to have gone out of their way to create a film with absolutely no payoff. Perhaps it's some kind of inside joke that I don't get.

  • Play It to the Bone. Copyright © 1999. Rated R.
  • Starring Antonio Banderas, Woody Harrelson, Lolita Davidovich, Lucy Liu, Robert Wagner.
  • Written and Directed by Ron Shelton.
  • Produced by Stephen Chin at Shanghai'd/Play It.
  • Distrubted by Buena Vista.


Copyright © 1999. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:00:37 PDT