The comedy film “Grudge Match,” starring Hollywood icons Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro, featured a video clip of Manny Pacquiao in action and made mention of the classic Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight Thrilla in Manila twice.
The movie was shown to the local press and bloggers on January 13 at Cinema 2 of Glorietta in Makati.
The Pacquiao clip is shown at the very beginning of the movie as a backgrounder relating to the two protagonists, De Niro’s Billy “The Kid” McDonnen and Stallone’s Henry “Razor” Sharp.
Thrilla In Manila was the third and final contest between real rivals Ali and Frazier held at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City back in 1975. Ali won that fight ranked as one of the finest in boxing history.
The homage emphasizes the global-spinning reputation of both, something Filipinos, boxing fans or not, can truly be proud of.
“Wow, that’s something to smile about,” says a Filipino blogger after recalling the national pride-inducing inclusion.
“The Grudge” tells the story of fierce rivals who fought in the early 80s, with each scoring a victory over the other. McDonnen announces his retirement on the eve of their supposed third bout. Fast forward three decades later, when the aging pugilists face off in a grudge match to unstoppably hilarious results.
Rocky versus Raging Bull
Interestingly, the movie’s lead stars are also known for having portrayed iconic boxing figures in separate Oscar-acclaimed pictures.
Stallone is the actor behind Rocky Balboa, the title-character in a franchise that began in the mid-1970s and which scored for him an Oscar nomination both as actor and screenwriter.
De Niro’s turn as Jake La Motta in “Raging Bull” earned him an Oscar for best actor, partly because he actually forced himself to gain weight to act out his character.
Athletic ability and courage
The “Grudge Match” production notes quoted Stallone as saying, “I love boxing and the metaphors about it. 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.”
The film, directed by Peter Segal, also includes Kevin Hart (“Think Like a Man”) as fight promoter Dante Slate, Jr., Alan Arkin as Razor’s trainer Louis “Lightning” Conlon and Kim Basinger (“L.A. Confidential”) as Sally Rose, a former lover of Sharp with a stunning back story.
The movie opens in local theaters January 15.
Pacman comeback hangover
The Pacquaio fight cameo brings back to mind the Filipono boxer’s recent exploits againt Brandon Rios whom he beat convincingly in a 12-round slugfest in China that resulted in a unanimous decision.
Yahoo OMG interviewed celebrities after what was dubbed as the “ultimate viewing experience” of that November fight held at the Grand Ballroom of Solaire Resort and Casino in Parañaque City.
TV host Marc Nelson, who had previously covered Pacquiao in training as co-host of ABS-CBN's “Sports Unlimited,” stressed his utter respect. "He fought smart and it's great to see him back in peak form. I tell you this, Manny trains like no other man in the planet. He's so fast no one else can keep up with him," Nelson said.