Grudge Match is like a dream come true for fans of Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro, the film is directed by Peter Segal and casts both actors as aging veteran boxers coaxed out of retirement for one last fight. Stallone plays Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp and De Niro’s character is called Billy ‘The Kid’ McDonnen. The two pugilists hate each other and fought each other twice in the ring back when they were contenders, a third fight often called a ‘grudge match’ was planned but for some reason it never happened. The men then retired from boxing and haven’t reunited at all over the last thirty years.
The rematch or ‘grudge match’ between the two fighters is arranged by a boxing promoter called Dante (played by Kevin Hart.) Dante knows both men and informs them that a videogame developer is making a new boxing game, he then pulls a few strings to get McDonnen and Sharp hired to do motion-capture work for the game as both men could use the extra money. During one of the motion-capture sessions the two ex-boxers come face to face again for the first time in thirty years, unfortunately their reunion turns sour rather quickly as the two men start arguing and have a punch-up in the studio, this creates a fair bit of publicity which Dante is quick to capitalize on. He convinces a company to offer the men a tidy sum to get into the ring one last time for a rematch. Getting back into the ring will be a difficult task however as both men are past their prime, they still have a lot of spirit though and that will help them get through this new challenge.
The trailer is enjoyable and it highlights the comedic aspects of the film but also some interesting dramatic elements. McDonnen finds out he has a grown up son (played by Jon Bernthal) and tries to bond with him during the course of the film, Sharp tries to come to terms with his old age and convince his wife he can actually handle the fight. The media think the fight is a big joke and don’t take the boxers seriously, McDonnen and Sharp see the fight as one last shot at the big-time and put everything they have into the match. Both men are underdogs and considered over the hill so it will be cool to see how they triumph against adversity. All these elements are well explored in the trailer which is intriguing, funny and a little dramatic.
Stallone and De Niro haven’t appeared together in a film since Copland which was released in 1997 and it’s cool to see them together again. Stallone is obviously well known for his roles as Rocky Balboa and De Niro also starred as Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. The actors are happy to parody their tough guy personas in this film and also address the issue of getting old and not being as fit as they used to be. One scene in the trailer is particularly entertaining, it lampoons a scene in the first Rocky film where Stallone trained and worked out in a slaughter house. This element of comedy and the willingness to spoof or make fun of older boxing movies works well and will delight fans familiar with those films. The film also stars Kim Basinger as Sharp’s wife, Vincent Pastore and Alan Arkin as coaches for the two boxers but also LL Cool J and of course Kevin Hart who both get small parts.
Grudge Match will be released on January 17th, check out the trailer and share your thoughts.