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Review: Bleed for This

(L-r) Ciaran Hinds, Miles Teller and Aaron Eckhart star in Open Road Films' BLEED FOR THIS

Making a movie that’s looking to tell a true story while entertaining can be difficult. If course, you need the correct mix of realism and sensationalism when not everything adds up. That’s a balance that proves to be tough to accomplish sometimes. Bleed for This is no exception as it wants to tell an inspiring story, but they do so at the risk of turning Vinny Pazienza’s story into complete fiction.

Loosely based on the true story of Vinny “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza (Miles Teller), Bleed for This focuses on an eventful journey in life both in and out of the ring. From becoming a champion against the odds to seeing his life flash right in front of him, Pazienza has seen his fair share of thrills and scares. With the undying support of his family and a feisty trainer (Aaron Eckhart), he braves it all the best he can by proving that his heart in the squared circle is just as big outside in the real world.

For anyone who knows a bit about Vinny Pazienza, you’ll likely come to understand pretty quickly that Bleed for This is almost complete fiction. While much of the stuff did happen, they took some major liberties with the timeline, the scope and the events that are shown throughout. I won’t get into specifics right now, but these are obvious if you’ve followed any of the boxers shown or talked about here even a little bit. While it doesn’t fully take away from the potential entertainment that someone may find in this, it does make it all less meaningful.

If they were going to alter so much for dramatic purposes, they should have just gone with some more movie style boxing matches to improve things as a whole. Make what’s showcased here more like what we’ve seen in one of those Rocky flicks or something. It doesn’t even need to be that unrealistic and sensational, but the stuff we see is here extremely simplistic, basic and in dire need of a boost of energy and overall quality.

The only positive thing about Bleed for This is the acting. Miles Teller does creates a believable interpretation of a boxer who oozes the kind of heart and machismo you would expect from a fighter like the one seen here. Aaron Eckhart is also an engaging and personable version of real life trainer Kevin Rooney as he shows the kind of personality that he rarely gets to play. When I look at it, I don’t know if this movie is as decent without these two actors due to their performances and the obvious chemistry that they shared.

Because of the high level of fiction featured all throughout it, it’s impossible to seriously consider Bleed for This to be any sort of actual biography. In terms of the pure movie going experience, it’s an okay picture that isn’t going to offer anything that you can’t get in better movies about the sweet science known as boxing. If you’re an actual fan of Pazienza, you just might want to give it a look. If not, I recommend getting your boxing fix elsewhere. These movies have been coming out forever, so I’m sure you can find something worth your time.

Director: Ben Younger

Miles Teller
Aaron Eckhart
Katey Sagal
Ted Levine
Ciaran Hinds
Jordan Gelber
Amanda Clayton

Film Length: 116 minutes

Release Date: November 18, 2016

Distributor: Open Road Films

  • Score - 5.5/10
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