When it comes to film, there is no other sport that has delivered such powerful and emotional dramas on the big screen as boxing. It’s the personal drama they delve into that makes them so relatable to audiences. That’s not to say we’ve all climbed the Rocky Steps or assaulted family members as a result of paranoia though.
Many have been based on true stories and that is certainly the case with Bleed For This, a film based on the astonishingly courageous real life experiences of Vinny Pazienza.
Played by Miles Teller, Pazienza was a World Champion Boxer who was left not knowing whether he’d be able to walk again after a near fatal car accident caused severe spinal damage. Rather than let it defeat him, Pazienza aimed to get back in the ring, setting in motion one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history.
The biggest draw of Bleed For This are its performances, particularly the knock-out lead one given by Miles Teller, one of the hottest young actors in Hollywood today. Teller never loses the cockiness of Pazienza, even when he faces a life without boxing, turning him into such a remarkable character.
I really enjoyed the pairing of Teller and Aaron Eckhart as his trainer, Kevin Rooney. Eckhart hasn’t really had much to shout about in recent years but I do think he’s a good actor, showcasing it here with a good performance. Ciarán Hinds and Katey Sagal deliver fine performances as Vinny’s mother and father, taking me a while to realise it was even them with the change in appearance.
The best boxing films are the ones that focus more on the goings on outside of the ring than inside it, and that’s where Ben Younger gets it right with Bleed For This. Yes, a big part of the story is Vinny wanting to get back in the ring but Younger chooses to focus on the man himself and how driven an individual he was to get back to his best in the ring.
Younger also delivers some energetic boxing sequences, using quick edits and excellent sound mixing to almost feel like you’re taking the punches at times. The brutality of the sport is wince-inducing at times so the film does warrant its rating however, the moment that had everyone wincing was when Vinny has the screws taken out of his head after six months of wearing the halo designed to help his neck recover. It’s a moment that perfectly captures the severity of Vinny’s accident as well as the aforementioned cockiness, Teller playing it for laughs.
If you’re a fan of boxing films, Bleed For This is a film you will want to see. Don’t dismiss it entirely if you aren’t a big fan of boxing films because there is plenty to admire in this portrayal of one of the most inspirational comebacks in sporting history.