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12 Apr 2014

Blu-Ray Review: 'Grudge Match' Wastes a Golden Opportunity With De Niro, Stallone

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Talk about your blown cinematic opportunities. Man, this should’ve been fun: Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro, riffing on their iconic boxing characters Rocky Balboa and Jake LaMotta, have one last boxing match. It sounds to me like the setup for something great, nostalgic and even funny.

Instead, director Peter Segal managed to make this undertaking a morose, unfunny slog. Stallone plays an unhappy character, while De Niro plays a total jackass. Their characters wind up in a scenario that gets their almost 70-year-old bodies into the ring for a rematch 30 years after their last fight. Alan Arkin and Kevin Hart are wasted in supporting roles.

The fight itself is OK, with both men looking fit for their age. However, everything leading up to that fight is oddly paced, and sometimes painful to watch, especially when Kim Basinger is on screen as a confused love interest.

Stallone and De Niro show the more negative, unappealing aspects of their once-great characters. While they aren’t named Rocky and Jake in this movie, those characters are certainly on the brain. De Niro should’ve allowed his character to be a little more punchy, and Stallone should’ve shot for something a little more lovable and virtuous. Both performers seem truly lost, as if they signed up for a fun movie and discovered it was depressing.

This seemed like a sure thing, but Segal blew it. This counts as one of 2013’s biggest movie disappointments.

Special Features: You get an alternate opening and some alternate endings; some extras with Stallone, De Niro and Hart; and some fun with Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes and Evander Holyfield. The extras are much better than the movie.

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