Grudge Match  (2013)    65/100

Rating :   65/100                                                                     113 Min        12A

This starts off really badly, as we are introduced to Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy ‘The Kid’ McDonnen (Robert De Niro), two men who once competed professionally against each other in the boxing ring and each won one match apiece, with Razor denying any chance of a deciding bout over personal reasons – leaving unresolved issues that neither man has ever managed to put behind them, until fate intervenes to spark up their old rivalry once more. Initially it’s all a little humdrum with flat jokes and predictable character development, and scenes generally lacking any pizazz. More or less half way through it does pick up though, the story gains a little momentum, the use of music gets better, the characters come to life a bit more, the training montages go up a gear – all leading to quite a satisfying finale.

The two leads of course are famous for playing boxing roles previously; real life boxing legend Jake La Motta in ‘Raging Bull’ (1980) in the case of De Niro (best actor and editing at the Oscars), and Rocky Balboa for Stallone in his Rocky franchise (The first of which won best film at the Oscars for 1976, as well as best director and best editing) and the expected allusions are there. Alan Arkin takes on the role of the sarcastic trainer for Razor, whilst Jon Bernthal has a strong turn as The Kid’s estranged son B.J. and Kim Basinger appears as Razor’s ex-girlfriend, who is more than familiar with their thirty year grudge …

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