You Never Got Me Down Ray (Warning: Contains Blood and violence. Parental Discretion is advised)
Director: Peter Segal
Writers: Tim Kelleher, Rodney Rothman
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kim Basinger, Kevin Hart, Jim Lampley, Ireland Baldwin, Rich Little, Anthony Bean, Mason Mackie, Barry Primus, Oscar Gale, Frederick Douglas Plunkett Jr., BJ Guyer, Jen Kober, Anthony Anderson, Alan Arkin, John Buccigross, Steve Levy, Jon Bernthal, Joey Diaz, LL Cool J, Mike Goldberg, Chael Sonnen, Larry Merchant, Roy Jones Jr., Michael Buffer, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield
Synopsis: A pair of aging boxing rivals are coaxed out of retirement to fight one final bout -- 30 years after their last match.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, sexual content and language
Rocky vs. Apollo Creed (first fight) (Warning: Contains Spoilers and Violence. Parental Discretion is advised)
Grudgement Day Promo
Raging Bull vs. the Italian Stallion
If you're one these rare movie fans that's always yearned to see a film where Rocky Balboa would ever face off against Jake La Motta, from "Raging Bull", then sadly you'll have to wait longer because that movie doesn't exist. However, "Grudge Match" seems to be the closest you'll ever get to your wish coming true. Sure, Stallone and De Niro aren't exactly playing any of those characters in this movie, as Stallone is playing a character named Razor; while Robert De Niro has a character named Kid. However, lets be honest with ourselves for a minute.
We all know most movie fans will probably make various references saying, "It's Rocky vs. Jake La Motta." Of course, it doesn't help that their characters share certain personality traits with the previous iconic boxing characters they've played before.
Kid was one of the all time greats, who became something of a womanizer and alcoholic after he beat Razor, during their first bout together. During the second match, Kid was out of shape, as he didn't take the fight too seriously, so he lost to the more determined Razor, in their rematch.
Razor is portrayed as a hardworking boxer, who was the underdog during his rematch with Kid, but he lost all his money after that bout to where now he's struggling to get by.
Razor was offered a second rematch with Kid thirty years ago, but he turned it down due to various circumstances. I won't divulge what those circumstances were, to avoid spoiling anything for my readers, but I will say that it does add a lot of emotional weight to the story.
Not only showing the audience that inner pain and conflict that Razor had to put up with, but it also shows how deeply he doubts himself; while also showing why he holds such a harsh resentment towards Kid, as he took away two of the most precious things in his life.
However, that's not to say that Kid is necessarily the antagonist either, as he too is portrayed as something of a sympathetic figure as well. Although it's been established that Kid did turn into something of an alcoholic womanizer, while making a lot of mistakes in his life. Yet at the same time, we still get a sense that he's a good man inside, who deeply regrets some of his mistakes in life. It especially gets touched upon when Kid finds out he has a son, whom he has never seen in years.
Sure, the long lost son archetype is kind of predictable, as you know at some point they're going to bond, and he's going to prove he's a good father..blah blah. But like "Cool Runnings", you may know exactly how the story will end, but it's how the movie plays out that makes it that much of a pleasure to watch, as it's executed rather well here. The movie never rushes past any character developing moments, which leads to a big pay off in the end.
To get back to the rest of the story, both Kid and Razor are well into their twilight years. Kid keeps wanting a rematch because he couldn't get over losing that last bout, while Razor ends up reluctantly agreeing to it due to his financial situation. But make no mistake, both these warriors have something to prove to each other. Kid wanting to prove that he's the superior fighter, while Razor wants to beat Kid when he's at his best, as he was sort of denied that the last time.
Although I doubt Robert De Niro nor Sylvester Stallone will get any kind of reward movie buzz for this film, but they play off each other rather well. I especially loved some of the subtle references they made to their previous boxing characters in the past. Like how Sly is about to punch a pile of meat that's hanging in a meat factory, but his trainer stops him by telling him it's unsanitary.
Alan Arkin is simply hilarious as Razor's trainer, as he makes Stallone do things that would even make Mickey (Burgess Meredith), from the Rocky movies, raise an eyebrow. You thought making Rocky chase after a chicken was a weird way to train for a boxing match? Try soaking your hands in horse urine as a way to limber up your hands. Yeah, I don't know if I would trust Arkin's character as my trainer, but hey...it's just a movie right?
As for the rest of the cast, they play their parts rather well for what they're expected to play. Kevin Hart is the stereotypical comic relief, while Alan Arkin plays something of the smartass trainer.
Overall, it's not a bad movie to watch, but I wouldn't go out of my way to see this in theaters. Nah, this is the kind of film that's better left being watched on TV/DVD/Blue Ray. "Grudge Match" may not be the highest grossing movie of last year, nor is it likely to get any reward buzz, but it's definitely worth a rental at a rating of two and a half out of four.
© 2014 Steven Escareno