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Grudge Match (Blu-ray Review)

Grudge Match - www.whysoblu.comFirst you had the team ups of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger and now comes the epic team up of Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro in the comedy-actioner Grudge Match. I missed this in theaters but thought the trailer and marketing materials were hilarious. I was bummed out that it was PG-13 and was even more bummed out that they released during the holiday season where it was ultimately crushed by the other 800 films that were released at that time. Well, the Blu-ray is here and it will be tackled by yours truly. In this corner we have the Italian Stallion vs. The Raging Bull…who will win the championship title? Let’s get in the ring and find out!

 

Grudge Match - www.whysoblu.com

Film 

Henry “Razor” Sharp (Stallone) and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (De Niro) are a couple of old boxing rivals who have been going at it for more years than they care to remember. They battled in the ring twice before and hoped to rematch to break the tie but it never ended up happening. Both men went their separate ways, squandering their money, and living lives that paled in comparison to their former glory. 30 years later Dante Slate, Jr (Kevin Hart), son of their former fight promoter, has come to see if they can come back into the fold of fighting…uh, one step at a time. Slate slowly starts to get both men less than desirable gigs so as to build interest in both men as fighters. Using the power of social media and viral marketing a hilarious fight between the two aging fighters in green-screen suits (their likenesses were going to be used in a fighting video game) gets the ball rolling.

Alan Arkin makes an appearance as Sharp’s former trainer who is adamant to die training him than to die in a convalescent home. Kim Basinger is Sharp’s former love interest that left him due to his schedule and glitzy boxing life, but she also has secrets of her own. De Niro as McDonnen brings the hilarity with his wise guy approach to the character. The story of Grudge Match is not rocket science and it won’t win awards or anything. It’s an almost 80’s subject matter and structure transferred over to he style of movies today. Two rivals who hated each other in the past will conquer their problems of today and most likely be friends by the end. That sort of narrows it down in terms of basic storyline structure and whatnot.

Stallone as Sharp is obviously channeling a low-key Rocky Balboa vibe while De Niro is amping up the La Motta vibe but keeps it within the PG-13 threshold. The same can be said with Arkin and Hart. I remember when I first saw the trailer for Grudge Match and it had me rolling, because it looked like it would be an R rated romp. I was disappointed when it was rated PG-13. I don’t find Kevin Hart funny when he has to clean up the language. His scene in The 40-Year Old Virgin is hilarious. Likewise with Arkin, but he gets many more laughs, because he’s older and plays off of the disabilities that his character has. The hearing aid gag is hysterical.

Kim Basinger, who has had a few sporadic film appearances here and there, brings a subtle vulnerability to the Sally character, because it ultimately just isn’t about Sharp and McDonnen. It’s also about her. The film plays the material pretty straight injecting humor, cameos, etc., into it. Considering that it’s also a bit formulaic I would say that a couple of minutes could have been trimmed from the running time as it clocks in at 113 minutes. I think some of the effects work could have been a bit better in the scenes where they decided to “younger” up the characters, although, they did use actual body doubles that resembled Stallone and De Niro from Rocky and Raging Bull. Those likenesses were spot on.

I wish Grudge Match had done a bit better box-office wise but that’s how it goes. I don’t think there’s that much time left for these “throwback” types of films in the modern film world. Today’s film going public is too cynical and flicks like Grudge Match don’t really have a place here. That’s too bad because I had a good enough time watching it and I’d like to see more films in this vein.

 

Grudge Match - www.whysoblu.com

Video 

Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Clarity/Detail: Contrast and sharpness levels were spot on and I never detected any hints of boosting or edge enhancement. Warner Bros. has been putting out some great Blu-rays and Grudge Match looks to be no different.

Depth: Grudge Match definitely has that “pop” that you would expect in high definition. All of the elements such as contrast, sharpness, etc., work together as a cohesive unit, with only a minimal hint of intrusion as I have outlined below.

Black Levels: Black levels are deep and inky and I did not detect any instances of crush.

Color Reproduction: The color wheel spins right round and there are only few scenes that have a muted palette.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones look natural and I only detected scenes of unnatural flesh tone during a few scenes that show us Stallone and De Niro as young men. I think the CGI makes the skin look a bit weird.

Noise/Artifacts: I only detected a couple of hints of noise and artifacts and that was probably due to the filmmakers wanting to add authenticity to the flashback footage. Granted, that is not the fault of the transfer, but it’s still there, if that makes sense.

 

Grudge Match - www.whysoblu.com

Audio 

Audio Format(s): DTS-HD MA 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1.

Subtitles: English SDH, French, and Spanish.

Dynamics: Grudge Match is an equal parts drama, comedy, and sports film all in one and the lossless soundtrack really pulls it all together.

Low Frequency Extension: The low-end channel did its job with flying colors. Musical selection is a big part of the film and the extra kick in the pants the LFE change provides is a very welcome addition the proceedings.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound channels start off slow but increase in their directional dramatics once we get to those big crowd scenes and arenas.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue was clean and clear, without any interference or disruptions. There were plenty of scenes that could have overwhelmed what was being said but thankfully the Blu-ray came through.

 

Grudge Match - www.whysoblu.com

Extras 

Grudge Match on Blu-ray has a beefy set of extras – although an audio commentary would have given the overall score a major push. What we do get is more than adequate, though.

  • Behind the Scenes: The Bull & The Stallion (HD, 14:08) – Here’s a behind the scenes look at the making of the film with some interviews from the primary cast and director Peter Segal. I am surprised at the level of involvement of Segal in just about every feature on this Blu-ray.
  • Behind the Scenes: In The Ring with Kevin Hart (HD, 5:00) – This featurette focuses a bit more on Kevin Hart. Depending on your tolerance for his humor you may or may not like it.
  • Behind the Scene: Kevin Hart Unedited (HD, 3:57) – They gave Kevin Hart a lot of love on this Blu-ray, because here’s another short featurette on Hart messing up his lines and improvising just about every scene that he’s in.
  • Ringside with Tyson & Holyfield (HD, 3:17) – Here’s a pretty funny and amusing interview with the former heavyweight champions as discuss what a “grudge match” means to them. This is good stuff.
  • Blow by Blow with Larry Holmes, Introduction by Peter Segal (HD, 3:34) – Here’s a short interview with Larry Holmes as he talks about fighting Muhammad Ali. He went from being his friend to becoming his enemy once they were in the ring. He also talks about various instances throughout his career where he was also involved in “grudge matches.” This is a neat interview, as I did not know much about Holmes outside of him being knocked out (the only time he was ever knocked out) by Mike Tyson back in the day.
  • Alternate Opening with Introduction by Peter Segal (HD, 6:45) – Director Peter Segal introduces the original opening to Grudge Match. It also has some incomplete special effects. I like the theatrical opening better.
  • Alternate Endings with Introduction by Peter Segal (HD, 3:22) – Director Peter Segal introduces 2 alternate endings that show a different outcome in one and a draw in the other. Again, I liked the theatrical ending a bit better.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 6:44) – Here’s a series of deleted scenes that were rightfully removed, as they didn’t really add anything. I did like the extended comedy club scene with the puppet. That made me laugh.

Grudge Match - www.whysoblu.com

 

Summary 

Grudge Match is harmless entertainment. It was great to see De Niro and Stallone play off of one another and the  supporting cast was also very strong. The Blu-ray has great video and stellar audio and above average special features. It’s quite the fully loaded Blu-ray. A DVD and UltraViolet code are also included. If you want some laughs, a bit of emotional heart, then I recommend Grudge Match.

 

 

 

Order Grudge Match on Blu-ray!

Grudge Match - www.whysoblu.com

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

1 Response to “Grudge Match (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Fantastic review, Gerard!
    I wanna give this one a chance one day!
    But very good coverage up above!!!