HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Grudge Match
HTS Overall Score:77
Professional fighting movies, whether that be boxing, MMA, wrestling, you name it, have always been a hot ticket for Hollywood. We all remember growing up on “Rocky”, “Raging Bull”, “Rocky 5000” and even had a resurgence of the classics with “Rocky Balboa” and some modern takes on the genre with “Warrior” as well. Sylvester Stallone has done an amazing job at keeping himself relevant in a world that’s fast becoming younger and younger for the man. “Rocky Balboa” was a knockout hit (excuse the pun) and his “Expendables” franchise is making money hand over fist and attracting more and more aging actors to himself. Now we have two actors who have played arguably the most iconic boxers from the fast 50 years. Rocky and Raging Bull are back, nose to nose and fist to fist, squaring off against each other in a geriatric fight to the finish.
Henry “Razor” Sharp (Sly Stallone), and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (Robert Deniro) were two highly rated fighters, the only losses that they ever sustained were at each other’s hands and they never had their chance to break the tie and have one final grudge match. It seems that shortly before the fight that would have put one of them as the champion, Razor decided retire from boxing. Now, 30 years later, the men have moved on with their lives. Razor lost his fortune and returned to being a blue collar metal worker outside of Pittsburgh, and Billy runs a successful bar and a used car dealership. With layoffs at the factory happening left and right, Razor begrudgingly comes into a video game studio to do the motion capture for a new boxing game that has their personas involved. This small little decision turns into a snowball of events as he meets up with his arch rival after 30 years. Both men dislike each other, but Billy has been mulling over his loss for 30 years and has a score to settle. Soon both men are roped into doing one final grudge match. A battle that will settle the score once and for all, a publicity stunt for Dante Jr. (Kevin Hart), their old promoter’s son, a chance for Razor to get some quick cash, and a final hurrah for Billy.
If you’ve seen the trailer, it seemed to be focused mainly on the fighting in the ring, but really the fight is the culmination of what the men learn, rather than the focus of the film. The events leading UP TO the fight are really the main events. As the story unfolds you see that it’s not about JUST a grudge match. The issues of the two men lie much deeper than just a fight. Billy and Razor hate each other for a myriad of reasons, but the main one is the most common of all mankind…a girl. It seems that Razor was dating a girl by the name of Sally (Kim Basinger), and Billy snaked her from underneath him and ends up having a son with her. As you can imagine, some rifts were formed. Now, as the fight gets closer, Sally makes an appearance to both men begging them not to fight. They’re in their 60s and to most people it seems like a joke. To her she sees two men she was involved with putting themselves in danger for what seems like childish pride. Billy has to come to grips that he’s not a young man anymore and Razor has to finish something that he started years ago. Giving up a career in anger will leave a man feeling regretful and Razor has only one regret, never finishing what he started.
The film is not going to win academy awards, but then again, it doesn’t appear to be targeted as an award winner either. There are some parts that work, some parts that don’t, but overall it’s just a simple piece of entertainment. Kim Basinger is given some solid moments as the repentant girlfriend and as an aging mother and Deniro can pull this role in his sleep. Stallone is, as always, my favorite as he sinks into that comfortable role as the blue collar, self-made boxer that he’s done over his career and nails it dead on. Alan Arkin, as Razor’s old fight trainer is one of the highlights of the film, because…well… he’s ALAN ARKIN. The man just oozes entertainment in everything he’s in and the film is certainly better for it. While I REALLY doubted having the annoying Kevin Hart play the fight manager, it really wasn’t too bad. Kevin Hart is famed for his over the top non-stop jabberjaw style of comedy, and while he still plays his annoying self, it’s a much more restrained version of Kevin Hart and ends up being quite tolerable at least. The film also had a few surprise cameos, L.L. Cool J coming in as a modern day promoter who’s too high and mighty to train an aging boxer and even Anthony Anderson pops in for a quick hello. I almost didn’t recognize Anthony since he’s lost a LOOOOOT of weight.
“Grudge Match” is decent dramedy fare, giving the fans some nice chuckles and a few heartfelt moments. It’s not a wildly polished movie, and never will become a classic, but I feel no remorse in having entertained myself for a few hours and it is a rather enjoyable rental that I may not re watch year after year, but have no qualms about a redbox rental or keeping it on the channel if I run across it on a Saturday afternoon. With so many bad movies, or ones that are GRUDGINGLY worth a rental because no one would want to buy it, it’s rather refreshing to find a movie that is good solid entertainment without feeling the pressure to try and be one or the other.
Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, sexual content and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=15204[/img]Warner’s 1.78:1 AVC transfer for “Grudge Match” is a pleasing transfer, but isn’t one that you’re going to showcase to all your friends. The detail level is quite good for the most part, shifting from great in some scenes, to excellent in others. It actually shifts from scene to scene so some scenes are incredibly well detailed, showing all the lines and creases in our aging stars faces, and then it would shift to some wider optical shots where the film tended to look soft and smooth. Colors are quite good, with nice saturation, although the film is color graded to look a bit more bleak than usual. In the Kid’s bar or dealership the reds and blues of the cars pop off the screen, but when we shift over to Razor’s life the colors take on that bleak, dull texture consistent with the steel mill life. Skin tones are nice and natural, no complaints there and black levels are actually EXCELLENT. The Film has a lot of dark scenes and the detail and shadow levels are pin point beautiful. The disc was given plenty of room to breathe I can’t see any problems arising from compression issues. My final opinion is that the transfer is quite good, but not one that will bowl you over for crystal clarity due to the filming style. Still a very solid encode.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=15206[/img]Warner’s 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is right on par with the video, giving us a very good, but not great track. It’s a bit front heavy for a boxing moving, but being that the film tends to prop up the drama and dialogue a bit more than any actually fighting it’s understandable. Dialogue is clean clear with voices locked to the front and smooth. Dynamic range is decent with some thunderous wallops from fists hitting faces sporadically throughout the film, but given the type of film it is we’re not going to be shocked out of our chairs by the range of effects. Surrounds are used decently, with the sound of the gym pulling the viewer in and the even the sounds of Kid’s bar is replicated in all 6 channels quite nicely. The end fight is really where the LFE channel starts to light up, otherwise it’s fairly mild film on the low end, giving us some rumble in the fights and training sequences for the most part. Again, a decent track, just like the video it’s not going to wow anybody, but it’s quite serviceable and pleasing for the job.
• The Bull & The Stallion
• In the Ring with Kevin Hart
• Ringside with Tyson & Holyfield
• Blow for Blow with Larry Holmes
• Kevin Hart Unedited
• Alternate Opening
• Alternate Endings with an Introduction by Peter Segal
• Deleted Scenes
Is “Grudge Match” going to be the next “Rocky” or “Raging Bull”? Of course not, it really wasn’t meant to be. It’s what I like to call “a pleasant rental”. Meaning it’s one of those movies that isn't going to shock and awe audiences, but rather makes for a pleasant viewing experience where you just want to have a fun for a couple of hours. It’s not a great movie, but it’s not in any way an offensive movie either. It just happens to be light entertainment that’s not meant to mistaken as anything but. The video and audio are pleasing and, for once, we actually have a decent set of extras, so I wouldn’t hesitate to give it a rental or for fans at the theater a solid buy, since it’s been given a very solid home video release.
Starring: Robert Deniro, Sylvester Stallone
Directed by: Peter Segal
Written by: Tim Kelleher, Rodney Rothman
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French (Canadian), Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: Universal Studios
Runtime: 113 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 8th, 2014
Buy Grudge Match Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Good Rental
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