Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone starred in two of the greatest boxing films in movie history: Raging Bull and Rocky. Grudge Match, directed by Peter Segal and credited to three screenwriters, may have intended to recapture the magic of the earlier films, but it’s terrible. I dare say it’s painful to see icons like Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone involved in a project that so clearly trades on admired characters that brought them accolades.
Henry “Razor” Sharp (Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (De Niro) were both light heavyweight contenders from Pittsburgh who hated each other. They fought twice, with each knocking out the other. Before they could schedule a rematch to settle things once and for all, Razor retired. Kid has seethed about him ever since, even as he has opened a chain of successful businesses. Now a Pittsburgh factory worker, Razor is struggling to make ends meet, caring for his former trainer, ‘Lightning’ (Alan Arkin), who’s been moving from one assisted living facility to another.
When Dante Slate Jr. (Kevin Hart), the insufferable son of Razor’s old promoter, turns up with a plan to make some quick cash assisting with a boxing video game, the ensuing scuffle between Razor and Kid is captured on camera and goes viral on YouTube. Dante senses there might be more interest in these two old boxers than he could have ever imagined. Before long, a third fight is scheduled.
The rest of the film is spent with these two very out-of-condition men getting into shape for this long awaited bout. It’s terribly obvious that both of them are far too old to be doing this, but you just have to accept it. Razor turns to his old trainer ‘Lightning’ for help, while Kid is happy to have his son B.J. (Jon Bernthal)—the product of a one night stand with Razor’s then-girlfriend, Sally (Kim Basinger)—as his trainer. Sally is hanging around the fringes, which makes things a bit more melodramatic, but none of it is particularly interesting.
There are a few references to Stallone and De Niro’s boxing-film legacy, a couple of which are funny, but they hardly make for a 113 minute movie. Stallone and De Niro are 67 and 70 respectively, and look it. It’s hard to find anything very funny about to men of that age stepping into the boxing ring.
Presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, Grudge Match looks wonderful in 1080p. Image detail is fantastic throughout, with solid textures and consistent black levels. Strong black levels are key here, as several indoor scenes are dimly lit. There are no digital anomalies to speak of. This is what you would expect a very recent film to look like on Blu-ray.
The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is just as sharp, creating an occasionally immersive atmosphere. A dialogue driven film, Grudge Match does offer occasional crowd noise, punching and other ambient sounds. Dialogue is clear and concise throughout, while ambient sounds are easily identifiable.
English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- The Bull and the Stallion (HD, 14:18) A look behind-the scenes, featuring interviews with cast and crew members including De Niro, Stallone, Alan Arkin and director Peter Sagal.
- In the Ring with Kevin Hart (HD, 5:00) Some thoughts on Kevin Hart from Hart himself, Stallone, Peter Segal and others.
- Kevin Hart Unedited (HD, 3:57) With an introduction from Peter Sagal, this features some alternative takes and outtakes from Kevin Hart.
- Ringside with Tyson and Holyfield (HD, 3:17) Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson reflect on the movie’s fighting and training sequences, versus their own experiences.
- Blow By Blow with Larry Holmes (HD, 3:34) With an introduction from Peter Sagal, Holmes shares some thoughts on his career.
- Alternate Opening (HD, 6:45) Featuring narration by Peter Sagal, we get several minutes of prologue, minus any visual effects.
- Alternate Endings (HD, 3:22) Two in total, offer different judges’ decisions.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 6:44) Six in total.
- DVD Copy of the film.
- Digital HD and UV Copy of the film.