‘Rocky versus Raging Bull’
Thanks to Roadshow Films, we had the chance to see Grudge Match before its Australian release. This is our review of the film, but – as usual – no matter what we say, we recommend that you still go to your local cinema and see the film because there is no better critic than yourself!
Grudge Match is a “dramedy” starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro as the two former boxing champions Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp and Billy ‘The Kid’ McDonnen. In the early eighties there was a massive rivalry between the two of them, but the definitive showdown between the two fighters never took place. Thirty years later it looks like they can finally have their rematch and decide once and for all which one of them is the toughest.
While Razor struggles with his finances, Kid is enjoying a good life as the owner of a restaurant and a car dealership. Both of them haven’t been able to close the book on boxing, Kid in particular; to this day he holds a grudge against his rival for opting out of a big rematch, and he always felt like Razor was running away from this showdown. It turns out Razor in turn has his own personal reasons for holding a grudge against The Kid as well.
Obviously, things get messy soon since both men are old and initially the rematch is not taken seriously by the media, not in the least because of the lack of experience of their dodgy promoter Dante Slate Jr (upcoming comedian Kevin Hart). Things start to get better for the Kid once he gets the help of his biological son B.J. (The Walking Dead’s John Bernthal), who he is only just getting to know now since his mother kept him away from his irresponsible father for most of his life. In the meantime Razor gets support from his old coach (Alan Arkin) while trying to come to terms with his ex-girlfriend Sally (Kim Basinger).
Grudge Match is a predictable but enjoyable comedy that has a simple plot based on sport rivalry, while the drama elements don’t affect the end result at all.
The cast is solid with Robert De Niro clearly in his comfort zone in comical bits as well as in some strong serious moments. John Bernthal is a perfect fit to play De Niro’s son, since he is absolutely convincing as a young version of De Niro; he mirrors him in the way he walks, and sounds just like him as well. We already knew Bernthal’s acting skills are fantastic, since he proved that in last year’s ‘Snitch’ alongside Dwayne Johnson.
Fans will be in heaven to see Sly Stallone and Robert De Niro in a ring once again, and they obviously will tend to compare their characters with the iconic Rocky Balboa and Jake LaMotta – with good reason since the film includes a couple of strong references to both characters that the fans will appreciate.
Overall, Grudge Match is a truly entertaining film that can be enjoyed by anyone as its more comedy than drama. Female viewers will be happy to hear the film also manages to stay far away from typical testosterone-filled sports movie cliché’s.
Fans should not expect another “Eye of the Tiger” but instead you will get to enjoy some “Back in Black” from these two heavyweight actors…and make sure you do not leave the cinema as soon as the credits start to roll, since there are a couple of hilarious extra scenes midway through the end credits!!
Grudge Match opens in cinemas 30 January 2014