Review: GRUDGE MATCH

By Mark Saldana 

Rating: 2 (Out of 4 Stars)

It’s the match up of cinematic history. The Bronx Bull takes on the Italian Stallion in a bout where age is certainly a factor and bad aging jokes will abound. Expect cliché relationship drama and not much else. Sure, DeNiro and Stallone may draw in their die hard fans, and the promise of entertaining comedy may attract others, but none of these factors really deliver. If I were a promoter attempting to sell this movie, I’d be out of a job. Grudge Match fails to deliver all of what it promises and I cannot honestly recommend this bore of a film.

Stallone and DeNiro do not actually reprise their respective boxing roles, but play entirely different characters. Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (DeNiro) and Henry “Razor” Sharp (Stallone) have an unsettled grudge that has simmered for thirty years. The boxing rivalry came to a screeching halt when Razor inexplicably retires before their next match. This decision not only ended a famous and celebrated sports rivalry, but also put an end to their careers. When an opportunity arises for the old washed up fighters to face off in the ring, they can hardly resist the opportunity to make some decent money and to set the record straight.  However, there’s more to this rivalry than meets the eye, as this grudge is much more personal than most sports fans realize.

Written Tim Kelleher and Rodney Rothman, and directed by Peter Segall, Grudge Match isn’t a horrible movie, but just doesn’t offer audiences anything particularly interesting or fascinating. At its core, the film takes on familial relationships, missed opportunities and unrequited romance.  All of these plots are handled in very cliché ways with the expected tropes.  Jokes referencing Rocky and the age of the characters work sometimes, but most fall flat. Most of the cast deliver performances that are nearly as flat.

The two more interesting performances in the movie come from Kevin Hart who plays boxing promoter Dante Slate, Jr. and Jon Bernthal who portrays McDonnen’s estranged son B.J.  Hart’s wild and hyperactive personality actually makes for some funny moments in the film and Bernthal actually puts some genuine heart into his acting.

That’s what really seems to be missing from the film overall. It definitely lacks heart. Instead, it settles for formulaic drama and cheap laughs.  Movie ticket prices are not so cheap, so I wouldn’t bother spending your money on this film.

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