Grudge Match: Movie Review

"Grudge Match" stars two big stars who have also defined their careers on showcasing the art of boxing on the big screen (Stallone as Rocky and de Niro as the Raging Bull). But if you think "Grudge Match" is an ode to these performers and their respective films, then you are going to be terribly disappointed. The patchy and isolated comedy might peak your interest from time to time but the rather generic plot (and overly extended at that) stifles the film significantly.

Billy “Kid” McDonnen (Robert de Niro) and Henry "Razor" Sharp (Sylvester Stallone) are two local Pittsburgh fighters whose fierce rivalry put them in the national spotlight back in the 80s. Each had scored a victory against the other during their heyday on but on the eve of their decisive third match, Razor suddenly announced his retirement, refusing to explain why but effectively delivering a knock-out punch to both their careers. On the upcoming 30th anniversary of their canceled fight, boxing promoter Dante Slate Jr. (Kevin Hart) makes them an offer they can't refuse: to re-enter the ring and settle the score once and for all. But they may not have to wait that long as their first encounter in decades turns into a feud. The brawl erupts into an unintentionally hilarious melee that instantly goes viral. The sudden social media frenzy transforms their local grudge match into a must-see HBO event. Now, if they can survive the training, they may actually live to fight and finally settle the score of who's the better fighter of the two.

As much as we wanted to like "Grudge Match", much of its fault is pushing too much back story into the audience. Worse, the plot itself turns out to be truly generic and uninteresting. And while the ending was certainly a tease (guessing who's going to win), it cannot hide it's faults with a few minutes of tight boxing match clips. The movie itself though was not as bad as we expected. The comedy was a hoot especially those coming from Kevin Hart. We wished though that it was more frequent as the film had long bouts of trying to be serious but things going nowhere fast. In fact, at almost two hours, the film feels too long given its material. Making things less bearable was Stallone's stifled acting. It could be unintentional with his non-emotional and non-moving face but his performance was, to be blunt, forgettable. De Niro on the other hand was leaps beyond ahead of Stallone. Although "Grudge Match" may make you laugh out loud sporadically, the final material is less memorable and would certainly make you think if the "rematch" should have been done in the first place.

Rating: 3 reels

Why you should watch it:
- Kevin Hart was a hoot to hear and brings much needed comedy to make this film good enough to be enjoyable

Why you shouldn't watch it:
- the story was generic
- the film feels a little too long in the middle



  1. Though it can be good for a few or so laughs, the two-hour run-time can, and does, run on a bit long. Good review Jed.