BY Jo Ann Madarang
In Grudge Match, retired boxing rivals Henry “Razor” Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (Robert De Niro) meet again after 30 years to settle the score once and for all. Lending support to these two heavyweight actors are Alan Arkin, Kevin Hart, Kim Basinger, Jon Bernthal, and LL Cool J.
To put it simply, Grudge Match is a boxing movie about washed-up athletes played by equally old actors whose most popular films kids today have never even heard of. This may appear to be a disadvantage, a limitation, but Grudge Match embraces this quality proudly and turns it into an advantage.
Although Stallone and De Niro have good on-screen chemistry, the true heroes of the movie are supporting actors Alan Arkin (as Sharp’s trainor Louis “Lightning” Conlon) and Kevin Hart (as promoter Dante Slate Jr.). Their great comedic timing–alone and together–made the film good enough, instead of being just so-so. Only Kevin Hart can make that many racist wisecracks in a film and get away with it. And only Alan Arkin can make that many offensive jokes about old age and still come off as adorable.
One of the film’s hidden gems is the adorable Camden Gray (as The Kid’s grandson Trey). His 8-(almost 9!)-year-old character helped give De Niro’s character unexpected depth. Sadly, I cannot say the same for Kim Basinger (as Sally Rose), whose on-screen interactions with Stallone made me cringe a little.
The Verdict: Grudge Match may not be either of the lead stars’ critically acclaimed old boxing movies (Raging Bull for De Niro, Rocky for Stallone), but its straightforwardness and humor translate well on-screen and bring us a heartwarming and entertaining story. If you want to watch a film to be entertained (read: laugh a lot, maybe cry a little), go see Grudge Match. I guarantee that after seeing this movie you will never think of butterscotch and jellybeans the same way again.
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Grudge Match, distributed by Warner Bros., opens in Philippine cinemas today, Jan. 15.
For more upcoming releases, check our 2014 movie guides.