Prolife Movie Review: Grudge Match
What could make a bravehearted fighter so opposed to facing an opponent that he walks away from the fight that could settle a tied record between the two once and for all?
That question is at the heart of Grudge Match starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert DeNiro as the aging fighters drawn together for that final match. When we meet them Stallone’s Henry “Razor” Sharp is working at a foundry and DeNiro’s Billy “The Kid” McDonnen is a nightclub owner headlining his own stage as a comedian. Razor is approached by Dante Slate, Jr. (Kevin Hart) to lend Razor’s character to a video game co-starring The Kid. He adamantly refuses until he realizes he can raise cash for his aging trainer (Alan Arkin) and his health care needs. The video game taping devolves into mayhem which goes viral online, and suddenly the Match is on.
The movie plays the training scenes for easy laffs and there are echoes of Rocky and Raging Bull for the diehard fans to chuckle along with. But when Razor’s former sweetheart Sally (Kim Basinger) shows up we get to the source of the animosity between the two men. Sally was Razor’s one and only but she is also the mother of The Kid’s kid, BJ. BJ is also a jock at heart and offers to become The Kid’s trainer, even though Sally forbids it because she loathes The Kid as much as does Razor.
As you can guess, the fight happens and to Director Peter Segal’s credit, he doesn’t play it for campy comedy. He lets his boxers (Stallone at 67 and DeNiro, 70) get in shape, and throw real punches. It’s a brutal yet bracing thing to behold these older gentlemen absorbing their hits.
I won’t spoil the ending, nor the romantic twist of a moment that deftly escapes melodrama due to the acting skills of Stallone and Basinger. But I will say that BJ was a crisis pregnancy resulting from a one-night stand. If Sally ever considered abortion, it never gets mentioned. Ultimately the more destructive grudge gets settled with Razor apologizing for failing to forgive and help Sally raise her child. And BJ building bridges with his absentee dad by showing him how he fathers his own boy.
That’s an ending we can all cheer.