Sylvester Stallone must really love boxing. After returning to the Rocky films this past decade, he once again enters the ring in Grudge Match. But the smart thing here is that he’s kind of poking fun at himself. Instead of trying to play a younger boxer which wouldn’t be realistic anymore at his age, he plays a retired boxer who really is old this time around.
The story focuses on a rivalry between two boxers who fought each other a couple of times 30 years ago, winning one fight apiece. Naturally, that situation calls for a “rubber match” to decide the true winner. But it never happened. Hostility remains between the two guys 3 decades later though. Stallone plays Henry “Razor” Sharp and Robert De Niro plays Billy “The Kid” McDonnen. When the two both arrive on set for a computer-simulated video game that will use their likenesses, they engage in a physical altercation which soon goes viral for all the world to see. This prompts a desire to see the two of them in the ring together once again.
Kevin Hart plays the loud-mouth promoter who puts the fight on. He plays the same type of character he always plays, but still very funny nonetheless. The same goes for a funny Alan Arkin as Stallone’s trainer who also plays the same type of character that he always does. So there’s nothing truly unique about the movie, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously and that’s kind of a good thing. It focuses on the funny for the most part, but also adds some depth to the characters when it shows the struggles they’re having in their personal lives. That’s part of the reason they agree to do the fight… along with a genuine grudge the two still have between each other after all these years. Some of the jokes can be lame at times, but there are some good zingers here and there when seeing the two old guys poke fun at each other. And the fight at the end of the film is done well and worth waiting for. The movie opens on Christmas Day.