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Movie Review

Grudge Match

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Director: Peter Segal

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kim Basinger

Duration: 113 minutes

Certificate 12A

1 of 3 Stallone and De Niro take to the ring yet again
Stallone and De Niro take to the ring yet again
2 of 3 It's Grudgement Day!
It's Grudgement Day!
3 of 3 Two old guys fighting is not a pretty sight!
Two old guys fighting is not a pretty sight!

Grudge Match is a movie all about its invisible tagline: Rocky V Jake LaMotta, played by the iconic actors themselves. And while there are a couple of nods to the original movies, it is not a spoof or homage to either of them. 

Henry 'Razor' Sharp (Stallone) and Billy 'The Kid' McDonagh (De Niro) were two rival boxers in the early 80s, both world champions, both in love with the same girl (Basinger). They never settled their score - either in the ring or where their hearts were concerned - and have not crossed paths in the last 40 years.

However, a down-on-his luck promoter, Dante (Kevin Harte), manages to convince an almost-broke Sharp and an out-of-shape Kid to fight one last time so that they can settle all their differences. It's not long before their lost love reappears and there's that battle to be fought as well. 

Grudge Match really isn't anything new. It follows sports clichés to a tee with training montages and false starts. And those steps get tired quite quickly, especially given the far-too-generous running time. 

The dramatic moments are what hold this movie together - they certainly far outweigh the attempts at comedy. There's factory worker Stallone who lives in a rundown house in a dodgy neighbourhood and gives over his pay cheque to keep his dour trainer (played brilliantly by Alan Arkin) in a nursing home. De Niro's new relationship with his adult son (John Benthal) is such a strong storyline they should have devoted more time to it. 

And of course there is the big fight scene - when we eventually get to it. It is choreographed impressively and packs a punch, but it never really gets to the heights of Rocky or Raging Bull. Then again, would you want it to between two men aged 67 and 70?

Grudge Match is not a movie you are going to be quoting lines from or encouraging your friends to go and see. The script tries its best to come up with some adult humour, but it never really hits the mark. Arkin is definitely the best of the bunch. 

Suzanne Byrne

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