Movie Reviews

‘Grudge Match’: Missing some punches

By Wang DexianMovies - 10 January 2014 12:00 AM | Updated 11:52 AM

‘Grudge Match’: Missing some punches

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Rating: 2 / 5

‘Rocky’ and ‘Raging Bull’ aren't just two of the best movies about boxing – they're two of the best movies ever made.

So, having Rocky Balboa and Jake LaMotta in the same movie is a fantasy come true, right?

Not quite.

We can already anticipate fans of both movies being offended when they watch this.

‘Grudge Match’ stars the two legendary actors from both movies, Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro, who play rivals from Pittsburgh.

Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (De Niro) and Henry “Razor” Sharp (Stallone) were both former light heavyweight champions who rose through the ranks at the same time. 

The two sluggers become rivals after two classic bouts – the first one, a hard-fought 15-round knockout victory for The Kid, and the second, a four-round knockout in which Razor dominated The Kid.

A rubber match was supposed to take place for the two of them to finally settle the score, but Razor announces his retirement (due to a reason revealed later in the film) on the eve of the fight, and ruins both their careers in the process. 

The audience catches up with them in the present, where Razor is really poor and working in a steel mill, while The Kid has parlayed his boxing success into a restaurant-bar and a car dealership.

A BIT OF SUBSTANCE

Though the movie's main premise is clearly a self-aware gimmick, it does try to put in quite a few side plots to give it a little substance.

Among them is on Dante Slate Jr (Kevin Hart), who provides much of the comic relief with his rapid-fire energy. He is the son of the promoter who ripped off Razor in the old days and it is his mission to distance himself from his dad's tarnished reputation that re-ignites Razor and Kid's feud. 

The Kid reconnects with a son. Razor also tries to rekindle an old flame and make ends meet, while still supporting his old trainer, Lightning (Alan Arkin) 

Two veteran cinema icons going at each other’s necks will always make for some hilarious imagery and situations. However, this pairing isn't very funny by any stretch.

CHEAP LAUGHS

Many of the jokes can be described as “low-hanging fruit”, really going after the obvious cliches for cheap laughs and after a while, it is at best, occasionally funny.

The premise for this movie sounds funny on paper, but really is more suited as a five-minute sketch on Saturday Night Live than a 120-minute feature.

Not all is lost though, as the cast shows some decent chemistry even though everyone seems to be on cruise control. 

QUALITY BOXING SCENES 

And the boxing bouts carry ESPN- and HBO-quality presentations, with the requisite big-fight feel. 

Fight fans will be delighted to spot many cameos from personalities of the UFC, including commentator Mike Goldberg and the outspoken grappler Chael “The American Gangster” Sonnen. 

Iconic boxing announcer Michael Buffer also appears to open the fight with his signature “Let's Get Ready To Rumble!” catchphrase. 

In sum, watch this only if you are a boxing fan and don’t mind seeing De Niro and Stallone ham it up. 

‘Grudge Match’ opens in cinemas 9 January 2014