Raging Bull was played Robert De Niro. Rocky by Sylvester Stallone. Now, in Grudge Match, they play two old boxers stepping back into the ring for one more fight.
Although this movie is set in Pittsburgh — Kim Basinger hilariously mispronounces CONSOL several times, which I know for a fact they hate — it was really filmed in New Orleans.
As a Yinzer, I find this incredibly upsetting. There are so many errors, like how there are signs for Pepsi Max in CONSOL, which is untrue. The now PPG Paints Arena only sells RC Cola. During the national anthem scene at a monster truck rally, a Winn Dixie sign shows up. There are none in this area. And in Pennsylvania, car dealerships can’t be open on Sunday. Come on, Hollywood, redd up your films and stop being such jagz n’at.
Henry “Razor” Sharp (Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (De Niro) were both famous boxers from Pittsburgh who have one loss on each of their records — courtesy of one another. Before the rubber match, Razor retires with no explanation, costing Kid a huge pay day.
Decades later, Razor is struggling to make ends meet and working on a shipyard. Promoter Dante Slate, Jr. (Kevin Hart), wants Razor to provide the motion capture for a boxing game, but Razor won’t trust the man, as it was his Slate’s father’s bad investments that left the aging boxer destitute.
However, Kid is now a successful car dealership and bar owner who says yes right away. Razor only agrees because the $15,000 payday will cover the overdue health bills for his trainer, Lightning Conlon (Alan Arkin).
While clad in greenscreen suits and mocap balls, the two boxers get into a huge brawl, ruining a studio and going viral when the video is posted. Slate decides to promote a final match between the two, called Grudgement Day, presented by Geritol.
At the press conference, Razor sees his ex-girlfriend Sally Rose (Basinger), who cheated on him with Kid and gave birth to a son named B.J. (The Punisher himself, Jon Bernthal) before getting married to someone else.
Kid’s trainer Frankie Brite (LL Cool J) is barely helping him, so he connects with B.J., who is a coach at Pitt, and gets in shape. As for Razor, he’s blind on one eye and everyone wants him to call it all off. However, he needs this one last fight, as Kid took everything he loved away from him — boxing and Sally.
There’s a great moment here where a montage recreates many of the Rocky training scenes, including Stallone dragging a truck that has the name Road Hawk on it, which is a nod to his role as Lincoln Hawk in Over the Top. And hey — it’s Rich Little as an announcer!
The big battle is actually pretty great. It’s shot well and is particularly brutal at the end, given that this is a comedy. It’s actually pretty much a feel good picture, something we rarely feature on our site, so enjoy it while you can. People will be getting devoured and stabbed again soon enough.
Grudge Match was directed by Peter Segal, who was also behind the camera for Second Act, Get Smart, Tommy Boy, 50 First Dates and The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. As for Stallone, this movie earned him a Golden Raspberry nomination for Worst Actor (along with Bullet to the Head and Escape Plan), but he lost to Jaden Smith for After Earth. He’s been nominated 14 times and won it four times:
- 1984: Rhinestone
- 1985: Both Rocky IV and Rambo: First Blood Part II
- 1988: Rambo III
- 1992: Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot
He was also nominated for:
- Over the Top
- Lock Up
- Tango & Cash
- Rocky V
- The Specialist
- Judge Dredd
- Get Carter
You can watch this on Tubi.