Razor and Kid Get Ready to Rumble
When Razor enters the arena dressed in the classic black and white of Muhammad
Ali, his old-school white silk robe with black edging and white trunks with
black stripes seem to glow under the bright spotlights. Kid sports his trademark
cloverleaf on the back of a sparkling emerald green Italian silk robe and trunks
edged in black. Shimmering with more than 5,000 hand-beaded Swarovski-crystals,
Kid's floor-length robe was a throwback to the colorful theatrics of boxing's
Vogt says both De Niro and Stallone helped design their character's boxing
costumes and, while the robes, trunks, socks and boots appear to be a simple
ensemble, she learned from the experts appearances can be deceiving.
"Proportions are very important and it's amazing how easily it can be thrown
off. The placement and size of the lettering on the robe, the height of the
shorts, the height of the band, where the trunks cut on the leg, everything has
to be in proportions. Both Mr. Stallone and Mr. De Niro were very specific about
Stallone says Vogt did a masterful job with the boxing costumes. 'They really
have historical value and are a true flashback, but in a classy way," says
Stallone. "A lot of love and intelligence went into making these costumes."
With everything in the story leading up to the boxing match, the execution of
the mechanical and emotional beats in the fight was a team effort of technical
skill and mechanical expertise involving camera movements, stunt work, reaction
shots and well-placed punches.
First and foremost, the fight choreography and on-screen training were
constructed to show the progression of movement and skills of two boxers who
have not fought in thirty years.
"The ingenious way Pete and Sly developed this ten-round fight started with the
psychology of these guys, who have not been in the ring for decades," says
Scott. "So, they are going to be rusty and mentally timid. There's going to be
missed punches, including ones that land badly. We needed to visually convey all
these details, which would happen if you hadn't boxed in years and all of a
sudden jumped into the ring for a title match."
Another incredible reality of the climactic match between Razor and Kid is that
De Niro and Stallone did all of their own boxing. "We didn't use one stunt
double," says Segal. "It was a hundred percent Bob and Sly."
"Stallone's really a gladiator," says Gerber. 'He wouldn't let anything stop
him. Even at rehearsals, we'd say, 'Sly, save it for fight, save it for fight.'
'Yeah, yeah, yeahâ€¦Don't worry about it.' He'd be jumping around, doing the
footwork, throwing punches. 'Dude, you're 67. Save it!' But he just brought
Scott says he had doubles ready, suggested using them and even pushed to use a
stunt double in a sequence where De Niro is hit and goes down. But the actor
refused. "He argued with me and said, 'No, I want to do it again,' and the next
time he went even bigger. I don't know any other man that age who could dance
around the ring like he did for five days, throw and take punches, giving 150
percent until the final bell."
In fact, Stallone wanted De Niro to bring it on, to throw punches that landed,
which was difficult for De Niro. "'I really want you to go at me, hit me,'"
Stallone recalls telling De Niro. "But he found it very difficult to punch me in
the face. He's just not used to it and I realized it's a process to train
yourself to let loose and actually hit somebody."
"I think Sly liked my left hook," De Niro kids. "It's a tough sport, though, and
he's got much more experience while I tend to not want to hit anybody, so I'm
very careful. I was relying on him quite a bit and I think we worked very well
Stallone was so intent on De Niro hitting him he actually had specially designed
boxing gloves made for the actor to protect his hands. "I made gloves where you
could hit. If the camera's angle is set, you can see the hits. Those were all
hits. They're not lethal but they hurt after a while." Stallone says when De
Niro put on those "brutal, real eight-ounce killer gloves" and finally started
landing a few, "it seriously hurt. No matter where you hit, it hurts," he says.
"Bob's going for it, banging away at me and I know he's hurtin, 'cuz I'm hurtin,'
and he says 'Oh, I'm sorry,' and I said, 'Don't be sorry. Knock me out!' So, he
did it and he did great."
There were six cameras shooting the fight under cinematographer Dean Semler's
direction, including the Genesis, Lexis and Canon digital cameras.
The other key to creating the excitement and noise of a real prizefight was
having the HBO Sports team be part of the night. "The presence of HBO gave the
match an invaluable legitimacy," says Gerber. "From their real boxing match
camera operators to their signage to referee Pat Russell to announcers Jim
Lampley, Larry Merchant and Roy Jones, Jr., having HBO really gave us the
ability to make the fight feel real. It was amazing to watch Lampley, Merchant
and Jones create in this fictional
world, the idea that they knew who these guys were, they had followed their
careers, knew their story, and compared it to other historical examples of
rivalries. It was golden."
"These guys work so well together, I think we have a fight that the audience
won't expect," says Scott. "It's a hard-hitting, fast-moving, to-the-bone
The cast, crew, and 500 extras spent five sweltering, surreal days in the arena
watching the two superstars make history in the ring. Despite being dressed in
evening gowns and suits in the 90-degree ringside heat, the crowd was another
element that added realism to the fight. Segal attests, "Their responses really
added to the energy that both actors were playing off of in the ring. I think
they were happy to share this iconic cinematic boxing experience with us. And
their genuine enthusiasm really helped make the movie and the fight as great as
As Razor and Kid meet in their final fight, they're seeking redemption as much
as victory. "Both of these men are going to their version of Oz, looking for
what is going to complete them, in and out of the ring," says Segal. "And it all
culminates with this fight where they are stripped down to nothing but their
boxing gloves, shoes and shorts, and they have to get in there, face each other
and resolve a conflict that's been eating at them for three decades."
The director reflects, "I grew up in sort of what I call the golden age of
heavyweights, and, to this day, I'm a huge fan. I think historically, if you
look at boxing movies, there is a romance to them. There's good and evil, pain
and exhilaration. It's a ballet of violence. But it's also a great metaphor for
life-when you're beaten down, can you get up again and keep fighting?"
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