Play It To The Bone

This 1999 sports film stars Woody Harrelson and Antonio Banderas as two aging boxers who get one more shot at the big time when a promoter offers them a match against each other for a shot at the world middleweight boxing title. The film also stars Tom Sizemore, Lucy Liu and Robert Wagner. Play It To The Bone was produced by Touchstone Pictures and distributed by Buena Vista Pictures.

The Director And Cast

The film was directed by Ron Shelton who also wrote the screenplay. Shelton is known for his films about sports and he has won multiple awards, both for his directing and screen writing. His films include White Men Can’t Jump, which was where he worked with Woody Harrelson for the first time. Tin Cup and The Best Of Times garnered Shelton more acclaim. He has worked with such stars as Robin Williams, Kevin Costner, Wesley Snipes and Susan Sarandon. He would go on to direct another boxing themed film, The Great White Hype with Samuel L Jackson. Play It To The Bone cost $24 million but only made back $8 million of its production budget. It was not critically well received either but Harrelson and Banderas’s performances were praised.

The Plot And Introduction

The film introduces you to two aging boxers played by Vince Boudreau played by Woody Harrrelson and Cesar Dominguez played by Antonio Banderas. They both feel unsatisfied with how they left the sport and both wish for another chance at glory. When boxing promoter Joe Domino, played by Tom Sizemore, shows up, their second chance appears with him.

Domino is looking for a replacement undercard fight when his scheduled fighters become unavailable. He has an event at Las Vegas with a title defense by Mike Tyson as the headliner. Domino arranges to have Banderas and Harrelson face each other in the undercard event. Both boxers take advantage of Domino’s desperation and they request a clause that the winner of the match gets a title shot.

Leaving For Las Vegas

The two fighters decide to drive up to Las Vegas for the event and they ask their mutual friend and former love interest, Gracie Pasic, played by Lolita Davidovich to take them in her Oldsmobile. Gracie decides to take the opportunity to make business proposals to Vegas investors in order to fund her ventures. On the way they pick up Lucy Lui, a hitchhiker called Lia that appears to be more trouble than she is worth. Once in Vegas, the film delivers a string of cameos from Rod Stewart ,Kevin Costner, Wesley Snipes, Drew Carey, Jennifer Tilly, Chuck Bodak, Steve Lawrence and of course Mike Tyson.

Once the fight between Harrelson and Banderas starts the event is barely attended with everybody waiting for the main event. Once the fight starts though, the gloves come off, figuratively speaking. They let loose years of pent up energy and give the audience and the television commentators a savage fight that leaves both fighters bleeding but elated. The fighters walk away with their purse and promptly spend their winnings rebuilding their friendship between themselves and Gracie. The film was not a critical or commercial success but the project is elevated by the always watchable Harrelson and Banderas who are clearly having a great time in their respective roles.