Monday, April 7, 2014

Blu-ray Review: GRUDGE MATCH (2013) [Warner Brothers]

Grudge Match (2013)

Buy the Blu-ray or DVD

The Movie

The last several years have seen a good number of films released starring actors who rose to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s, and Sylvester Stallone seems to be in almost all of them. This makes sense, when you consider that his 80s-action-era throwback film THE EXPENDABLES made a bunch of money and arguably kickstarted the “Nostalgia” genre. One of the latest films that can be rolled into that category is GRUDGE MATCH, which stars Stallone and Robert De Niro as aging boxing rivals who agree to one last go in the ring to settle their personal and professional feuds with one another. Released on Christmas Day last year, GRUDGE MATCH failed to make much of a splash at the box office. The critics also don’t seem to have been too kind to it either, and I’m not quite sure why because I found the film to be a fun watch that hits its marks more than it misses.

The obvious selling point for the film – and the tagline in some marketing materials – was Stallone vs. De Niro, and I understand why. After all, who better to duke it out than the two guys who brought Rocky and Jake Lamotta to the big screen? Unfortunately, though, one of the main points of the film was the thing that seems to have received the most criticism; the age of its stars. Sure, the two actors are getting up there in age, but that’s part of GRUDGE MATCH’s shtick, and I thought the film handled it in an entertaining and humorous fashion. To me, it wouldn’t make sense to play it any other way.
As a straight-up sports movie, GRUDGE MATCH is uneven, but when considered as the comedic drama (or “Dramedy”) that it actually is, there’s a lot to like. For starters, the cast is fantastic. In addition to Stallone and De Niro, we also get wonderful performances from Alan Alda (as Stallone’s prehistoric trainer), Kim Basinger, John Bernthal, and Kevin Hart. Everyone does a great job at bringing their characters to life, and I was surprised at how touching the film is at times.

In fact, that humanity is what made GRUDGE MATCH work for me. Sure, it has some laughs – some of which don’t work as well as they were probably meant to – and the boxing scenes are pretty impressive given the ages of the two stars; but that’s not enough because there are much funnier comedies and much more action-packed sports films out there. At the end of the day, it’s the peripheral story about the characters’ pasts, and how it has led them to this one ridiculous event, that pushes the movie into above-average territory. I honestly liked the characters and cared about what happened to them, and that doesn’t happen enough these days.

Is GRUDGE MATCH perfect? Certainly not... There are some cheap laughs (including at least one fart joke), and sometimes the mixture of comedy and drama doesn’t meld perfectly. However, I found it to be a lot better than the initial reviews seemed to imply, and I’m glad that I gave it a chance. If you’re looking for a laugh-out-loud comedy or an action-packed sports film, you may want to search elsewhere…  but if you simply want an entertaining film with some heart to it, then I suggest giving GRUDGE MATCH a shot.

Movie Score


The Blu-ray

Warner brings GRUDGE MATCH home on a nice Special Edition Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Combo pack. The initial pressing of the film comes with a slipcover.

Video Quality (4.5/5)

GRUDGE MATCH isn't meant to be a pretty film. Part of the point of the movie is to show its main characters in some unflattering positions, which means there are dingy settings, harsh lights, etc. However, Warner does an awesome job at presenting the film in high definition. The 1080p AVC-encoded transfer is excellent, with a healthy bitrate, great detail, and a nice filmic look. There's a reason why the company is one of my favorites when it comes to Blu-ray releases, and GRUDGE MATCH does not disappoint.

Audio Quality (4.5/5)

The DTS-HD Master Audio track on GRUDGE MATCH is equally as impressive as the video quality. From the use of the surrounds to create a roaring stadium full of fans, to the thunderous punches being landed on-screen, this disc delivers.

Extra Features (3/5)

Though not labeled as a "Special Edition," GRUDGE MATCH comes with a nice assortment of bonus features. The alternate and deleted scenes are nice, but the best feature here is "The Bull & The Stallion" where we are treated to a behind the scenes look at the making of the film, and most impressively, the work that went into staging the boxing fights between Stallone and De Niro. The rest is filler; but not in a bad way.

  • 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
  • Additional Deleted Scenes

Final Thoughts

Warner knocks it out of the park again with their Blu-ray release of GRUDGE MATCH. The movie is better than you've probably heard, and the presentation is top-notch. Add to that a nice smattering of bonus features, and you have a highly enjoyable Blu-ray release that will certainly please existing fans of the film and bring new ones on board.

Blu-ray Score


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