Based on the inspirational true story of Italian World Champion Boxer Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller) whom makes a comeback to the ring after suffering a near fatal car crash, this should have been up there with all the other greats but sadly turns out to be nothing more than a really lacklustre biopic effort. Lacking in the powerful punches of Raging Bull, the emotional turmoil of Million Dollar Baby and the courageous fighting spirit of this year’s Creed, where Bleed For This fails the most is in its characters. There wasn’t one character that you could really warm to, not even Pazienza. For a boxing film to truly work, the viewer needs to find a real emotional attachment to its central character in order for the big payoff during the film’s climatic finale to be a really enthralling and victorious one.
When Pazienza isn’t fighting another opponent in the ring in boxing matches that have been seen better elsewhere, he’s celebrating his success gambling in casinos or partying with strippers in clubs. This lifestyle doesn’t last for long though, after being the victim of a head on collision car crash not long since winning his first heavyweight match; that effectively fractures and breaks his neck. Never taking no for an answer, this major setback no way hinders or prevents him from carrying on with his training with the help and aid of his personal trainer, Kevin Rooney (an almost unrecognisable Aaron Eckhart), much against his own father’s wishes. Using this middle part as a plot device in bringing to the fore Pazienza’s sheer dedication to never give up against such seemingly insurmountable odds still wasn’t enough for this author to invest fully in the character and the story. Unlike with the other boxing films already mentioned that were focused on portraying characters who had difficulty dealing with their most worst inner demons, Pazienza is someone so brash and stubborn, taking full advantage of all the fame and money that comes with this business when being so triumphant.
Going back to the importance of the finale, these are the kind of conclusions that all boxing biopics lead up to, securing its place as its most towering and memorable moment. You want the protagonist to win so badly, near enough cheering them on to come out on top and find the inner strength to overcome such great odds within such a well choreographed fight sequence. None of these feelings presented themselves during the ending of this film as there was no care felt for the characters in Bleed For This to begin with.
Still, if there is one positive thing to say about the film, boxing films have a long way from dying out yet, regardless of them sometimes being a bit hit or miss.
Bleed For This is out in cinemas now.