Director - Eric Drath
Length - 77 minutes without commercials (90 minutes with)
Installment - #54 of 30 for 30/ESPN Films series
Most Similar To - Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks
Grade - Mid 30's out of 54.
Review - At its core, No Mas is another great 30 for 30 although it's not fully reflected in my grade. Part of that speaks to the quality of the series as a whole, but also my dissatisfaction the last 25 minutes of the film which slid my assessment from a top 25 grade to a more modest mid 30's grade.
For younger viewers who are unfamiliar with the famous fight or just sports fans who have little or no knowledge of the iconic 1980 bout, No Mas will pack a potent punch. (This forced boxing reference will likely lead to a lot of readers leaving the site, saying No Mas!)
I came into the film with a pretty solid baseline of knowledge of Duran vs. Leonard II, the central event the film focuses, and one that predates my birth by a couple of years. That said, I only had the cliff notes version having not lived through the famed fight and hence I was excited to drill down deep into one of the more iconic fights over the last half century.
For the first 2/3 of the film, No Mas delivered the goods with great context and fight footage retracing the first match between the two, the leadup to the second fight, and the fight itself. Essentially the first 1/3 of the film focuses on both fighters, their background, and their first fight that set the stage for the rematch. The middle third is close to flawless as you relive the excitement leading up to the rematch and take in a good part of the fight itself.
But No Mas gets a little lost in the third act as director, Eric Drath, goes in search for closure and comes home empty handed. I actually thought Drath would pull it off and tie a nice bow around the story, given his history directing sports documentaries. In addition to directing previous 30 for 30 Renee, Drath did a masterful job directing HBO's Assault In The Ring, another boxing documentary that searches for answers in regards to another famous 80's fight with unresolved question marks.
The greatness of Assault In the Ring (trailer here) is that Drath, delivers on his search for answers, finds some level of redemption for the remaining living fighter, and refocuses the blame and responsibility on that tragic fight onto trainer Panama Lewis (who is oddly featured in No Mas despite being the target of Drath's previous efforts).
So I went into the final third of No Mas with a sense of optimism that Drath would again bring some level of clarity and closure to fight that still befuddles sports fans and boxing pundits.
Similar to Assault In The Ring, the quest for truth involves some travel to arrange a face to face meeting as Leonard makes the trip down to Panama to reunite with Duran. There is an odd photo op, footage of Leonard traveling, and Duran playing pool, driving, and giving a tour of his house. The anticipation for their retelling of the fight is given tremendous buildup. Would we be treated to some paydirt? (spoilers below)
Then for some reason, their meeting is staged in an empty arena in a boxing ring. The two stand and talk briefly, the whole exchange being awkward partially because they are in a boxing ring and there are no chairs for them to cozy up and let it all out.
Duran clams up, Leonard lets him off the hook, and without a interviewer/mediator or chairs to sit on, the meeting fizzles out. I think the photo below basically foretells how the face to face meeting goes in addition to how the fighters feel about the fight itself.
(Photo: Ben Solomon/ESPN Images)
Maybe I was expecting too much or maybe I'm just too sensitive to unresolved question marks for any story. Part of me thinks that No Mas would be better served lopping off the final third and trying to cram the film into the 1 hour window like many other 30 for 30's.
All that said, No Mas does a masterful job retracing the leadup to the fight and the fight itself. It's interesting, paced well, and has historical footage that moves around with ease while covering a lot of ground. (Similar to Leonard....BOOM ANOTHER BOXING REFERENCE!)
Given that close to half of tonight's audience were not alive or weren't old enough to remember the famous No Mas fight, the film will go over a lot better than my review given it will be totally fresh to many. Overall, give a director like Drafth an iconic sporting event or storyline, he's going to get it right. Ultimately tonight's 30 for 30 is a tremendous retelling of Duran vs. Leonard II, but for those hoping for additional insight into that great story, unfortunately there is No Mas.
As always, please chime in the comments with your thoughts.
haven't seen it, but already know it will not address the most important back story. That ALL of it was staged. Ali was gone, boxing needed leonard/duran because there was no one else to sell tickets. if leonard had won the first fight, the planned trilogy would never have happened. so, he had to lose. In order to take a dive, he stood toe to toe, giving leonard an excuse for the loss. Next, it was duran's turn to dive, in order to set up the third fight, which would have been the biggest payday in the history of boxing at that time, the third fight. unfortunately, duran couldn't take a dive. he was too proud, so he just quit, blaming french fries. there's a real 30 for 30 that no one will ever tell, but it is most likely the truth.
I just finished watching the episode and was so dissatisfied at the end that I had to find some people who had a similar experience. I agree with others that everything was set up perfectly; I cared about a rivalry that I had previously known nothing about. I was immediately hooked and couldn't wait for the resolution... which was handled horribly.
It should have been clear to everyone that Duran would be extremely guarded. Despite many previous effort, no one had been able to get him to open up in a meaningful way. The producers of this film knew this, and what do they decide to do? Create the most worst scenario for an interview I have ever seen. Duran is a man who teeters between being a legend and a laughingstock to his countrymen. And they make him meet Leonard in the crumbling arena with his name on the side, under bright lights, with no moderator, and no chairs. It comes across as a stupid gimmick that clearly doomed the entire visit.
Why didn't Leonard and Duran meet semi-privately before the "photo-op"? Why couldn't they have had lunch together, talk about their families, and become comfortable with each other? why didn't the producers have them talk to each other in a disarming setting that would encourage Duran to speak candidly?
And why was the only discussion and coverage of the third fight during the closing credits?
One more thing to add that this documentary does not explain. The second fight was scheduled for five months after the first fight. Granted Duran was out partying and putting on weight but Leonard was supposedly retiring. Duran was also going to retire since he had already fought over 70 fights and was content with ending his career moving up from a lightweight to defeat Leonard. Duran had no knowledge of the rematch until 6 or 7 weeks before the fight. Leonard knew Durans manager wouldn't turn down 10 million even if there was no way Duran could get into shape in a month and a half! 2 weeks before the date Duran tried to postpone the fight but he was told no. thats why he was starved before weigh in and was eating like an animal the day before the fight.
Leonard is a snake.
Both In there prime
Duran > Leonard
I thought I was the only person that thought the documentary was great up until the last 20 minutes or so. Leonard and Duran facing off in the boxing ring looked and felt like a disaster. It looked staged and did not make either fighter look authentic...especially Leonard, who did most of the talking. I personally didn't like how the documentary more or less made Leonard (the "golden boy") the victim, who after all these years was seeking an "honest" answer from Duran. WTF. Folks may not remember, but Leonard was notorious for being a complete a$$whole towards respecting other fighters. Ask Tommy Hearns, Hagler or Aaron Pryor (who he would never fight). I was expecting Leonard to arrive in Panama and the end result being two old champions reminiscing and finally saying, "No mas. Regardless of what happened, we both were champions and our mark in the sport won't be forgotten." But instead we get an unresolved Leonard still seeking a victory from an old nemesis. All because he cant fathom the fact that the man he feared the most actually quit the second fight, not because he was intimidated by Leonard, or Leonard got to him mentally, but simple because he knew he couldn't catch Leonard, and he couldn't hold his $hit another round and really needed to take a crapper. LMAO Pathetic.
Why does everyone say it's unresolved? Duran has been asked and he's answered innumerable times. That it seems unfullfilling to Sugar Ray is understandable - he won but didn't beat Duran in that second fight. Why the general public assumes rapid weight loss and being unfit isn't a good enough reason to stop a fight I say ridiculous.A huge question is why the third fight took 10 years to happen. I know, I know "bc it could"! ;P
Absurd Perhaps....but Christie typifies 80's Eye Candy!!! as a matter of fact she still looked amazing for being in her late 50's