Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro have both had iconic roles as boxers, De Niro in Raging Bull and Stallone in the Rocky series. Here they play two aging boxers Henry “Razor” Sharp (Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (De Niro). The two of them are both from Pittsburgh and caused a divide in the city when they first fought in the 80s. They both won one match each and now, 30 years later, a promoter is trying to get them in the ring again.
Obviously the film has quite a few references to the other films but they don’t overshadow this original story. Both actors have fine performances and they didn’t resort to aping their previous roles. Grudge Match has a lot of drama and it’s not an empty film but the main strengths are the performances of De Niro and Stallone, and the nostalgia factor that the two bring to the roles.
The thing is that at some points the movie feels like it wants to be a comedy and at others it wants to be a heavy-hitting drama and it doesn’t quite manage to strike the perfect balance between the different tones. Also, some of the humour comes out as a bit mean-spirited, and other parts seem to be out of place. I thought the dramatic parts were much more excellent and there were a few revelations that drew me into the picture.
As for the final bout, well, although it was tense it did lack the drama of those from Rocky and Raging Bull. There was just enough to keep me entertained though, and I think if you like either Stallone or De Niro and remember their boxing films fondly you’ll get something out of it. Also, there are a couple of scenes that happen after the credits, one of which is really funny, so don’t leave right away.