Action movie heavyweights Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone face off in the ring for the first time in over thirty years since they both played professional boxers on screen.
The new comedy from director Peter Segal puts the actors behind Rocky and Jake LaMotta in the position of two old boxing rivals, pulled out of retirement for a thirty-year coming grudge match.
In their youth, Henry “Razor” Sharp, played by Sylvester Stallone, and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen as portrayed by Robert De Niro fought two brutal matches against each other, winning one each. But just weeks before their third bout, Razor announces his retirement, ruining his own career as well as that of his opponent.
Years later, and a now very down-and-out Razor is asked to provide motion capture for a video game; an opportunity he only accepts out of the need for money. His only demand is that he must not be anywhere near the Kid, but upon finding out about this the Kid bursts into his studio room and starts a huge fight which wrecks the studio.
The pair are arrested, and Razor is fired from his job, but when video footage of the fight is uploaded to YouTube it falls upon Dante Slate Jr, played by the hilarious Kevin Hart, to organise a final fight for the two.
Razor and the Kid go on their own personal journeys towards getting back in the ring.
Stallone and De Niro
Although Stallone and De Niro worked together in Cop Land, this is the first film in which they will fight on camera, and funnily enough they will be in roles very comparable to their respective parts in Rocky and Raging Bull.
Stallone’s Razor is an underdog, a nice guy but a down-and-outer just like Rocky originally was, while the Kid is a cocky womaniser, not unlike the abusive Jake LaMotta.
In promotion for the film, the two lead actors met with some of the boxing stars of today including Olympic gold medalist Anthony Joshua, who unfortunately has pretty poor betting odds for his 25th January bout against Dorian Darch, where they talked about the hypothetical competition between Rocky and LaMotta.
Unlike their first times round however, it was a lot more difficult for the actors to get fighting fit. While in Raging Bull De Niro had to bulk up a lot for his role, this time round he had to lose weight.
Stallone would have been comfortable working with the trainer Bob Sale, who was technical adviser on the sixth Rocky movie, and is still likely in pretty good shape thanks to his tireless involvement in action films.
Stallone will soon be reprising his role as Rocky for the seventh time in the new film Creed, while Robert De Niro is most likely taking inspiration from Grudge Match forward into his next film Hands of Stone, a biopic in which he plays Ray Arcel, trainer of the famous boxer Roberto Durán.
Grudge Match shows that while both actors have a strong comedy style, they have never strayed far from their roots in action films, even the well-respected De Niro.