January 23, 2014 6:08 pm

Grudge Match – film review

Ageing boxers Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro slug it out in a sweat-sprayed ring
Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone in 'Grudge Match'

Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone in 'Grudge Match'

Grudge Match, starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro, is mildly hypnotic. Going at it in a sweat-sprayed ring in Pittsburgh, the two ageing stars are the glamorous side of plug-ugly. They resemble two Francis Bacon paintings tussling in a hurricane. Saggy flesh; wounds and bruises; whacked features migrating in every direction; limbs blurred by woozy motion. It’s pretty hideous. But you’d still hand it the Turner Prize.

Henry “Razor” Sharp (Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (De Niro) never resolved their long-running feud as young boxers. So a top-dollar payday tempts them to a stadium punch-up as senior citizens in satin shorts. Every box is ticked in the boxing drama list of clichés, from rags-to-riches plot premise (both men are penniless at story’s start) to the slo-mo spume opera of the finale. Take Rocky, wed it to Raging Bull. Kim Basinger, in a brief role as the girl in the middle, proves the best in show.

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Nigel Andrews


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