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'Grudge Match' a recycled dud

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Grudge Match

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"Grudge Match" casts Sylvester Stallone as a down and out former prize fighter facing an old rival in yet another thinly disguised "Rocky" sequel. Here he plays a likeable but hard-luck good guy named Henry "Razor" Sharp taking on Robert De Niro as a watered down version of "Raging Bull's" Jake La Motta named Billy "The Kid" McDonnen. "Razor" actually goes so far as to drink a glass of raw eggs and walk past slabs of beef in a freezer while "The Kid" is a boozing womanizer who does a lame comedy act in his club. The desperate son of their old promoter (Kevin Hart) talks the aged punchers back into the ring for their third and tie breaking bout 30 years after they last went toe to toe.

If played as a flat out parody of their legendary past characters or as a serious look at a couple of guys trying to reclaim their former glory, "Grudge Match" might have worked. Instead, it's a completely unsatisfying and recycled time waster that's uncertain of it's tone. As a comedy, it's simply not funny. Even Alan Arkin as "Razor's" crusty old trainer fails to give the movie a lift. The dramatic subplots revolving around an old flame (Kim Basinger) are snoozers, most of the action sees our stars calling each other names and rewording the same tired argument, and by the time you get to the grudge match of the title you're just tired of hanging out with this dud.

The lackluster opening footage of a television sports show instantly sets you up for a disappointing couple of hours and the rest of the movie delivers on that promise. The really sad thing is that Stallone gives a terrifically low-key and honest performance. He's obviously still got some real acting chops, particularly in a sports movie world he knows so well. It's a crying shame that once again his picture grossly fails to be up to his capabilities.

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