FlixChatter Review: Grudge Match

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De Niro and Stallone seems to have a new movie opening every month lately don’t they? Both are their 70s and still going strong, while most of their piers either doing TV shows or take a supporting role in other big films. For example, all of Harrison Ford’s films this year, he played a secondary character, not the lead.

In this new boxing comedy, De Niro and Stallone stars as rival boxers, you can say it’s Rocky vs. La Motta. The film starts out with a flashback of the boxers in their prime, Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (Robert De Niro) and Henry “Razor” Sharp are two of the best boxers in the world back in the early 80s. They’ve both fought one another and hate each other’s guts. After their last fight, which Sharp defeated McDonnen, Sharp decided to walk away from boxing. McDonnen wants a rematch but Sharp refuse to fight him again. BTW, these flashback scenes included another bad CGI effects of making the actors look younger, think of the “young” Jeff Bridges in Tron: Legacy, Hollywood should stop doing this because it looks weird and fake. Flash forward to present day, Sharp is now working at a factory in Pittsburg, he lives in a crappy house and doesn’t have any family, he just takes care of his trainer Lightning (Alan Arkin), who’s living in the home for the elders. McDonnen on the other hand, he’s more successful, he owns a bar and runs a couple of car dealerships in the city. He also still living like a bachelor, he drinks and sleeps with women more than half his age.

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One day the son of Sharp’s former promoter, Dante Slate Jr. (Kevin Hart), shows up at Sharp’s home and tells him he found a way for both of them to make big money. Dante’s not doing well either and wants to be a boxing promoter like his father. Apparently a video game company wants to create a new boxing game and wants Sharp’s to be part of it. Knowing he needs money to pay for the bills that he’s way behind on, he agreed. When he showed up at the video game company to have his body captured for the game, McDonnen was also invited to be part of the game. Of course since these two don’t like one another, they ended up throwing punches and a bunch of people recorded the fight and it went viral online. It received millions of views on YouTube and made the news on Sports Center. Taking advantage of their new found fame, Slate Jr. convinced both of them pick up their gloves and go in the ring for a rematch. After the announcement that these two aging boxers are going back to the ring made national news, Sharp’s ex-girlfriend, Sally Rose (Kim Basinger), shows up and wants to rekindle their relationship. But Sharp’s not interested in seeing her, she slept with McDonnen years ago and got pregnant. At the same time, a young man named B.J., (Jon Bernthal, Shane from The Walking Dead), showed up at a gym where McDonnen was training and tells McDodden that he’s his son. Since he’s never been a father, McDonnen didn’t really know how to act but B.J. told him he didn’t want anything from him, just wanted him to know that he exists.

I know the marketing for this movie made it look like it’s all about De Niro’s and Stallone’s character training for the big fight. But it’s really about the redemption for these two men who’ve made mistakes in their younger years and now they’re trying to right what they did wrong. Of course there are scenes of them training and getting ready for the rematch, there were some nods to their classic films Rocky and Raging Bull.

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I thought the performances by the actors were pretty good, De Niro looked like he had a blast playing the reckless fighter and Stallone was surprisingly effective in his role, yeah he’s pretty much playing Rocky again but he’s Rocky to many people so that’s fine by me. Kevin Hart and Alan Arkin provided the humor in the film, in fact I though Arkin stole every scenes he appeared in. Basinger did a good job of playing the “love interest” in the movie and Jon Burnthal was very good in his role. If he gets to do more films, he could be someone to watch out for, I know he’s done mostly TV work.

Director Peter Segal kept everything light, nothing was over the top and the pacing was good. I’m sure it wasn’t easy making a movie where there’s no villain and have people cheering for both of the leads. The final climatic fight scene was well staged, although De Niro looked way too out of shape but again he’s in his 70s so he did the best he could.

I don’t really have anything negative to say about this movie, it’s a heartwarming story that will entertain fans of the leads and you’ll have some good laughs. The movie never took itself too seriously and as long as you don’t go into it with huge expectations, you’ll have a good time.

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What do you think of Grudge Match and the pairing of Sly and De Niro?

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25 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: Grudge Match

  1. I’m a fan of both actors and didn’t even mind when Stallone came back to the ring for Rocky Balboa. In fact, I thought it was great. This movie does not look good, though. I could be totally wrong, but I’m going to pass on it unless I hear a lot of raves.

    1. Ted S.

      Yeah I liked Rocky 6 a lot too. I didn’t have any expectations for this movie so that’s why I enjoyed more than I thought I would. Not sure how it will fare with big critics and I don’t think it would make any money at the box office.

    1. Ted S.

      Well I didn’t think they made a fool of themselves at all, like I said in the review, the film was really about them trying to redeem their lives. Like a lot of movies, the marketing seems to be a bit misleading.

      If you’re not a fan of Kevin Hart then you won’t like him in this movie.

  2. I’d go see this just for Alan Arkin. That man is a comedy genius. This doesn’t looks to bad, in a Million Dollar baby kinda way. It’s weird seeing two guys in their 70’s kicking about in the boxing ring, though.

    1. Ted S.

      Arkin’s great in the movie, he stole every scene he’s in. Trust me, it’s nothing like Million Dollar Baby, lol. But yeah the final fight between 70 years old men was kind of weird but they did a good job of staging the fight. I think they may have used stand ins for the actors during the fight because some of the scenes looked like they CGI’d their faces in.

  3. Rocky vs La Motta… I’m in! Stallone right now is still starring in roles we expect from him while in De Niro’s case there has been too many step downs. But this does look a lot of fun!

    1. Ted S.

      Yeah I didn’t think much about the movie when I saw the trailer but it really surprised me how good it was. Again as long as you don’t have any expectations for it, you’ll enjoy it.

  4. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ted:

    Sounds like the film could stand a touch of re-write and execution. And Stallone both in front of and behind the cameras.

    De Niro hasn’t aged well. So this may work for him. Would like to see him or Stallone in a mistaken identity film. Where either is mistaken for a mob boss. And the film is spent with them trying to prove or disprove links to “organized crime”.

    Especially if either gets to liking their new found status and starts having doubts.

    1. Ted S.

      Hey Jack, I think the marketing for this movie really made it out like it’s about the rematch between these two characters. But the movie was really about their redemption and yes they ended up in the ring for the finale but the journey to get there was pretty good.

  5. Looking forward to checking it out although I’m not rushing to see it at the cinema. Btw, you mention at the beginning that both actors are in their 70’s (if I read that correct), but Stallone is still in his sixties.

    1. Ted S.

      Yeah, I think Stallone is in his late 60s, he still looks better than most 60 years old men. LOL. I don’t think it will do well at the box office so I’m pretty sure it will hit Bluray/DVD real fast.

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks Katy, yeah it’s just a fun movie and it didn’t take itself way too seriously. You can bring your whole family to it and everyone will have a good time.

    1. Ted S.

      Well thank you for letting me know, I didn’t realize error in the 3 years difference between the actors offended you so much. Is this mean you won’t go see the movie of that error? Get a life dude.

        1. Pardon the error, Frankie, we’re bound to make mistakes from time to time, happens to the best of us 🙂 Thanks for pointing that out and for reading the review.

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