No doubt you groaned when you saw the trailer for Warner’s Stallone v. De Niro boxing buddy film. Well, don’t expect the groaning to stop there.
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 1 Hr. 53Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 04/08/2014
A bitter rivalry between former pro boxers “Razor” Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) and “Kid” McDonnen (Robert De Niro) returns to the limelight after 30 years, after Dante Slate (Kevin Hart), the son of the boxing promoter responsible for first bringing the two fighters together, tries to capitalize on the anniversary of their unsettled match up. What begins as a simple gig with a video game company looking to incorporate the legends into its latest project soon snowballs into a full-blown, multi-million dollar pay-per-view boxing event when Razor and Kid just can’t stop coming to blows whenever they breathe the same air. While both men are well past their prime, returning to the ring offers them a chance to not only settle an old score, but – in Razor’s case – to finally have the financial stability to take care of his long time trainer Lightning (Alan Arkin). But getting from the press conference to the actual grudge match will have its share of challenges, in and out of the gym, as the event revives not just Razor and Kid’s professional dispute but all the personal baggage they never managed to resolve.While Grudge Match clearly exploits the lead actors’ inextricable ties to Rocky and Raging Bull, the much too on-the-nose teaming of Stallone and De Niro proves the least of the film’s problems as it tries to deliver on the promise of its marketing pitch and persuade us it includes an actual story we should care about.While Razor’s character arc is now well-tread territory for Stallone, the drama that involves him reconnecting with an old flame (played by Kim Basinger) and overcoming his physical limitations fits him like an old sweater. There’s nothing fresh or exciting about it, but it looks good on him and he looks comfortable. Stallone also has decent chemistry with Arkin, despite the script relishing in easy jokes about growing old and being out of shape.De Niro, however, never seems to find his fit. Not only is he physically unconvincing standing toe-to-toe with Stallone, who’s maintained a physique that can put men half his age to shame, De Niro’s role as an unreformed bad boy who finally has to grow up is played too often for broad comedy, when the actor has always elicited more laughs playing the straight man. The character’s personal family drama also tends to drag with predictability, making it take that much longer to reach why anyone would see the film.The long-gestating boxing match, unfortunately, is a let down, due to the mismatched physicality of the actors but also an inherent lack of drama. It’s long telegraphed that the bout will end in a draw, if not technically, then philosophically, with the two rivals finally making peace. There’s nothing inherently objectionable to that outcome, but when it’s a foregone conclusion all the punches, knock downs and changes of heart are just delaying the inevitable. When Lightning can’t help but mutter, “Oh for God’s sake.” after all the back and forth, we the audience are right there with him.
The Production Rating: 2/5
Framed at 1.78:1 (a slight modification from its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio) and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer features deep blacks and an uncompromised range of contrast. Colors are deep and nicely rendered and fine object detail holds up from close ups to wide shots. There’s brief moiré noise in fine mesh patterns, but otherwise the image looks clean of both physical and digital artifacts.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
Dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently crisp, clear and intelligible. Surround activity is pretty limited, providing only slight support for the music soundtrack and some environmental crowd noise. LFE is also lacking, though a handful of moments exhibit decent bass extension.
Audio Rating: 3.5/5
Special Features Rating: 3.5/5
- [*]The Bull and the Stallion (14:18, HD): Covers what drew the cast and crew to the project, fight choreography, physical training, and shooting the climactic fight sequence.[*]In the Ring with Kevin Hart (5:00, HD): The cast and crew talk about Hart’s character and working with the comedian.[*]Kevin Hart Unedited (3:57, HD): Bloopers and outtakes from Hart’s rapidfire ad libbing and improv.[*]Ringside with Tyson and Holyfield (3:17, HD): A fictional clip set in the ESPN Ringside TV program, featuring the former boxing rivals.[*]Blow by Blow with Larry Holmes (3:34, HD): Holmes talks about his epic match with Muhammad Ali.[*]Alternate Opening (6:45, HD): The original cut for the opening involved Hart’s character providing narration. The clip also includes original footage before de-aging CGI was applied to the actors and body doubles.[*]Deleted Scenes (6:44, HD): Six clips titled “Kid vs. Jabby,” “Callahan Interactive,” “The Rubdown,” “Iron Mike and the Real Deal,” “Lightning’s TV,” and “Razor’s Autograph.”[*]DVD Copy [*]UltraViolet Digital Copy: Redeem by April 8, 2016.[/list]
Warner Home Video delivers a fine, but ultimately unremarkable, presentation for its boxing match-up film starring Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro, trading on their more well known characters from past films. The special features are perfunctory and largely promotional in tone, making the release best rented first for those who remain curious about the main feature.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewed By: Cameron Yee
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