Hot off the success of “The Expendables 2,” Sylvester Stallone returns to Rocky mode as he plays boxer Henry “Razor” Sharp who comes out of retirement for one final match versus fierce rival Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (Robert De Niro) in Warner Bros. Pictures‘ new comedy “Grudge Match.”
In the film, “The Kid” and “Razor” are two local Pittsburgh fighters whose fierce rivalry put them in the national spotlight. Each had scored a victory against the other during their heyday, but in 1983, on the eve of their decisive third match, Razor suddenly announced his retirement, refusing to explain why but effectively delivering a knock-out punch to both their careers. Thirty years later, a boxing promoter seeing big dollar signs, makes them an offer they can’t refuse: to re-enter the ring and settle the score once and for all.
After retiring from boxing, Razor returned to the working class life he’d always known. Stallone sees him as a “forlorn guy who’s been left out in the cold, who recedes into the background, working at a mill, welding steel in the heat of his own purgatory.” He spends his downtime alone, turning scraps of metal into tiny animal sculptures and working on his prized Shelby, covered in his garage.
For Stallone, Razor’s decision to quit boxing was something the character regretted. “Here’s what I think is very relatable about this story, it’s the idea if we could only go back,” he says. “We all say, ‘Why did I do that?’ It’s that life-long yearning that he should have gone right when he went left. He should have married this person or that person. He quit boxing too early. He had talent; he was good and he just let it go. He let his emotions really dictate his future.
“When the story begins, Razor’s in a steel mill and Kid’s in a gin mill,” the actor continues. “They are both in their own little hell. I think it’s more of a male thing, but they have that competitiveness that goes beyond all rational thought. I know guys who will never get over a wrong, assumed or actual. They’ll remember a slight forever. They want to go back and clean it up and if they can, they will.”
“I love boxing and the metaphors about it,” adds Stallone. “There’s a real classicism where it breaks down to a man’s athletic ability coupled with his courage. The two don’t always go hand-in-hand. I’m always watching the character of a fighter more than the punches. You see what a person is made of under duress.”
Although De Niro and Stallone had previously starred in the critically acclaimed 1997 ensemble crime thriller “Copland,” placing these two legendary actors in a comedy set in the world of boxing, when they’ve both become famous for playing boxers on screen, was a different configuration altogether.
“Sly and I really had several discussions before he signed onto this movie and I can understand why,” says director Peter Segal. “Because he has built a legacy as Rocky Balboa, to sort of wink at that takes a real leap of faith.”
Stallone most recently released a most ambitious project, the action thriller “The Expendables¸” which he wrote, directed and starred in and for which he hired an all-star cast, including Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Eric Roberts, Dolph Lungren and Steve Austin, as well as Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film opened at number one at the box office, making Stallone the only actor to open a number one film across five decades.
“The Expendables 2,” the highly anticipated sequel, also opened to number one at the box office. Stallone too wrote and starred in the film, along with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jason Statham and the original “Expendables” cast. Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris also starred.
Opening across the Philippines in Jan. 15, 2014, “Grudge Match” will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.