Monday, December 23, 2013

  • Opens December 25, 2013 
  • PG-13 | Sports action violence, sexual content and language

A slug fest for the ages as Grudge Match pits Robert De Niro who played Jake LaMotta in 1980's Raging Bull against Sylvester Stallone who played as Rocky Balboa in the various Rocky movies.  Of course it's not Jake vs. Rocky in this movie but Billy "The Kid" McDonnen (De Niro) taking on his arch rival Henry "Razor" Sharp (Stallone).  As the tag line goes, "a rivalry 30 years in the making," means both fighters are fighting again way past their prime.

In their careers, Billy and Henry each only had one blemish in their championship boxing careers, and that was to each other.  Billy had won the initial match up, and Henry the latter.  They were scheduled to face each other a third time while in their prime but Henry unexpectedly announced his retirement.  Fast forward 30 years later and Billy is a successful small business owner, owning a bar as well as a used car shop.  Henry meanwhile has seen better days as he is now a blue collar factory worker living in a small house skimping by to stretch his dollar with mounting debt.   

Dante Slate, Jr. (Kevin Hart) whose father was the promoter for the earlier fights between the two tries to reunite the two aging boxer.  He does so after a skirmish between the two at a video game shoot goes viral on the internet that garners interest for the two to fight again.  Henry is reluctant at first and we learn later why he is and why he retired long ago.  Spoiler, it has to do with a girl, or more specifically, Sally Rose played by Kim Basinger.

As unbelievable as the film is with the two aging actors going at it, you can't help but laugh as they poke fun at each other's eligibility for AARP membership.  While Stallone still has a mostly chiseled body, Robert De Niro's flab makes it implausible that even with training, that he'll be able to fight with such intensity as shown in Grudgement Day.  And it's the type of put downs though redundant at times makes you break a smile throughout the film.  Coming into his own is Kevin Hart as the promoter.  His banter with Henry's old time trainer Lightning (Alan Arkin) are some of the best scenes.  Both De Niro and Stallone puts on good performances.  Kim Basinger though is not particularly memorable.  Jon Bernthal like Kevin Hart is a rising film star.  If you love Jon in The Walking Dead, you'll love him in Grudge Match.  

Overall, I would recommend this film as a good winter holiday watch.  It'll make the old feel young again and the young appreciative of the older folks.  Whether it's learning about what's important in life (family) or not making the same mistakes in life, there's a positive message that the movie resonates that fits the holiday spirit.  The only thing that could have made this film better if it was done 20 years ago when both main actors were younger.  But then again it wouldn't be the laugh out loud comedy that it is now.  Be sure to stay during the end credits for some great cameos and more laughter with a certain ear biter and his former rival.

Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5.0 Stars



Sylvester Stallone as Henry "Razor" Sharp
Robert De Niro as Billy "The Kid" McGuigan
Alan Arkin as Lightning
Kevin Hart as Dante Slate, Jr.
Jon Bernthal as B.J.
Kim Basinger as Sally Rose
Chael Sonnen as himself
Michael Buffer as himself
Anthony Bean as Dante Slate, Sr.
LL Cool J as Frankie Brite

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