Bleed For This is the inspirational biographical story of Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller). After a critical car crash which left him close to death and unknowing if he would ever walk again, Paz made one of the most incredible comebacks to a sport everyone told him to leave behind. I must be honest, I really hate boxing. How can people be entertained by watching two guys beat each others to bits in a ring, in addition to making some money at the expense of someone’s suffering?
All that being said, I’m a sucker for a boxing movie. When we think of boxing movies, we think of legendary pictures like Rocky or Ragin Bull. I saw Creed last year and freaking loved it. Audiences are slaves to feel-good underdog stories and the boxing world is filled with individuals who have lost everything and the sport is their way out. It’s a matter of do or die. I could never beat someone up for a living and be willing to shake hands afterwards, if I could walk that is. To watch a movie about boxing is different than watching it live on HBO.
In the 1980s, Paz (Teller) is arrogant yet successful, and always wants to be at the top of his game. He’s from an Italian family who has supported him throughout his career, including his father Angelo, played by Ciarán Hinds (Game Of Thrones). Training him is Coach Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart), a recovering(ish) alcoholic. He loves the old sauce. After defeating the world middleweight champion, Vinny is critically injured in a car crash. He wakes with his neck in a brace and his back at a really straight angle. His doctors tell him he’ll be lucky to walk again, let alone fight. Typically, Vinny does the opposite of what he’s told to do, hence why we are witness to one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history.
Is Bleed For This another cliché underdog story? Of course it is, it’s a story about a young man coming back from an impossible position. All underdog stories are clichéd, but that does not mean that it’s not worth watching. Due to it being based on a piece of modern history, it’s impossible to spoil. Yes, Paz heals and boxes again. Throughout the film, I felt that they were holding back a little. His recovery was too pleasant and easy. It looked like it was too good to be true. I could have done with more of Paz’s pain and suffering, in: mind, body and soul.
Miles Teller (Whiplash) is incredibly well casted as Vinny Paz in appearance and in performance. He oozes excellence and personality. In getting into the role, he had a hard job with a brutal exercise regime. The best performance of the film goes to Aaron Eckhart (Sully). We’ve seen the semiretired-alcoholic-coach character before in countless sports movies but Eckhart is one of the best versions of that archetype I’ve ever seen. If you’re lax on sporting clichés, you’ll certain like the movie. It has some great performances and an emotional plot yet they could have honed that in a lot more.