Bleed for This

 

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Set in the world of boxing, this is a true story to please fans of the sport.

 
Bleed for This
Miles Teller weighs in

 

The star power of Sylvester Stallone helped to make the Rocky franchise into a box office champion but, those films apart, other boxing movies tend to fall into one of two categories however comparable the plot lines may be. On the one hand, you have the truly distinguished work that produced classics (Raging Bull and, long before that, The Set-Up and Champion) and on the other the routine works that only arouse enthusiasm from viewers with a dedicated interest in the sport. Bleed for This, written and directed by Ben Younger, belongs I would suggest in the second category (which means, of course, that lovers of boxing might well want to up my star rating for it).

 

Whatever leeway Younger may have allowed himself in the writing, the film is the true story of the champion boxer Vinny 'Paz' Pazienza who made a quite remarkable comeback after suffering injuries in a car crash which led to his being told that he would never fight again. Consequently, Bleed for This in addition to being a boxing saga is also able to offer the kind of inspirational drama that sees an individual making a recovery that defies the odds. One can understand why Miles Teller in following up his splendid work in Whiplash (2014) should have selected to play the role of Paz. The inevitable subsidiary figure of the trainer who helps is well played by Aaron Eckhart and, more unexpectedly, Ciarán Hinds fits perfectly into this American context as Paz's hard-pushing father.

 

However, the great boxing films draw us in far more than this one which resorts to hip hop songs and the like   to give the piece energy and trusts to much editing and a loud soundtrack when it comes to the fight sequences. As for Paz himself, brave though he may be, he is seen only as a man who lives for boxing and disregards the feelings of his family who, dad apart, are under-characterised. In consequence this is a thoroughly macho film which save for Paz's courage leaves one with little sympathy for its protagonist unless you totally endorse boxing as the one thing that makes life worth living.

 

Given my feelings about this film, I have to report the it was an ironic shock to discover when the end credits came up that one of the executive producers was Martin Scorsese.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Ciarán Hinds, Katey Sagal, Christine Evangelista, Ted Levine, Amanda Clayton, Kimberly Howe.

 

Dir Ben Younger, Pro Bruce Cohen, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Chad A. Verdi, Noah Kraft, Pamela Thur and Ben Younger, Screenplay Ben Younger, from a story by Ben Younger, Angelo Pizzo and Pippa Bianco, Ph Larkin Seiple, Pro Des Kay Lee, Ed Zachary Stuart-Pontier, Music Julia Holter, Costumes Melissa Vargas.

 

Verdi Productions/Magna Entertainment/Bruce Cohen Productions/Sikelia Productions/Younger Than You-Icon Film Distribution.
116 mins. USA. 2016. Rel: 2 December 2016. Cert. 15.