A tall tale...

Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.

Regarded by many as the greatest comeback in sporting history, Bleed For This espouses the rise, fall and rise again, of Vinny Pazienza within the boxing world. But how does this Ben Younger (Boiler Room) film stack up to some of the all time boxing greats?

As a lifeless crowd of journalists begin to stir at the weigh-in ahead, itís perennial fighter - Vinny Pazienza played by Miles Teller - is still in his hotel room, furiously cycling away as a cornerman wraps him up in cellophane like a sandwich, attempting to eek out those last few precious drops.

With the potential bout teetering on the edge cancellation, Vinny makes his entrance splash adorning the crowd with his revealing choice of underwear on the scale. Alas, all his sacrifice is for naught with Vinny suffering a crushing defeat at the hands of Roger Mayweather in the bout.

Deflated and in hospital suffering from severe dehydration, Vinny chalks up his string of recent losses to his weight-cutting issues, the promoters though - Lou and Don Duva played by Ted Levine and Jordan Gelber - have diverging thoughts, believing he should hang up his gloves for good.

But Vinny knowing he has more fight left in him, seeks out iconic trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) who recommends going up two weight classes. Itís a decision that proves fruitful, with Vinny attaining a world title, but his whole world comes crumbling down after a car accident leaves him with a fractured spine and his boxing life seemingly at an end.

Whilst Bleed For This is a movie based upon the sport of boxing, the best moments of the film happen outside the four-posted arena. The crux of its drama centers around the performance given by Miles Teller as Vinny Pazienza, who really nails the character and his nightly interactions with the family at the dinner table, creating a relatable dynamic that you canít help but root and invest in. Special mention also has to go out to Aaron Eckhart as trainer Kevin Rooney and Ted Levine as Lou Duva, the duo completely absorb into their roles and become unrecognisable - a testament to their craft.

Unfortunately Miles Teller performance and the overall drama doesnít translate itself very well into the fisticuffs themselves. Whilst admittedly there are some beautiful shots - the opening knockout, bell-ringing loss comes to mind along with the crash itself - it's Miles on-screen boxing skills coupled with the approach to filming which leave a lot to be desired. To put it simply, they donít feel authentic, whether it's the long periods of just jogging around the ring with nary a shot thrown, or the awkward punches whiffing nothing but air yet seemingly making thunderous contact.

Bleed For This - (Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, CiarŠn Hinds, Katey Sagal, Ted Levine and Jordan Gelber)

This unbelievability also translates into the story itself.

Bleed For This prides itself in being based upon a true story, but whenever a film like this steers itself off-road - into the territory of artificial drama - then it really makes you question what else isnít true. Case in point being Vinny Pazís return fight after recovering from the fractured spine, boxing aficionados will well know it was actually against Luis Santana - in what was a very one-sided affair. Instead, within Bleed For This heís matched up against Roberto Duran - admittedly a much bigger and well known name - a man who he did indeed face and beat twice later down the road, but why purposefully deceive the audience into believing it was his comeback fight? Itís a silly thing to do with a story that's already a miraculous feat in its own right.

Special Features

Inspired By A Legend - A short 2 minute featurette showcasing the real Vinny Pazienza who consulted with the filmmakers in creating Bleed For This.

An Authentic World - Another short 2 minute featurette but this time focusing on writer & director Ben Younger and his approach to making the film; opting to choose the real locales and Miles getting into his role.

Deleted Scenes - 6 quick scenes that add some flavour to proceedings, mostly centering around the promotion side of things with Lou Deva.

The Special Features of Bleed For This are pretty thin, and whilst the deleted scenes add some more context to offerings, the lack of any kind of directorís commentary negates a reason to rewatch the film.

Bleed For This is a movie that presents its best work outside of the ring, with Miles Teller as Vinny Paz coming across as not only believable but likeable. Writer and director Ben Younger also manages to capture some beautiful shots that standout from its ilk.

Unfortunately it's the films in-ring work that lets it down, with the actual bouts coming across fake with added contrived history for dramaís sake marring what is an otherwise miraculous sporting feat.

A DVD review copy of Bleed For This was provided by the distributor for review purposes.

  • Review by
    David Robinson

    Twitter: @5ypher

    Posted on
    27th March 2017

  • 3 Out of 5 Stars
  • Bouts felt fake

    Contrived history

    Lack of meat in special features

  • Some beautiful shots

    Miles as Vinny outside the ring

    Aaron Eckhart & Ted Levine

Film Info

Bleed For This Bleed For This
Rating: 15
Release Date: 27th March
Runtime: 1 hr 57 min
Director: Ben Younger
Starring: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, CiarŠn Hinds, Katey Sagal, Ted Levine, Amanda Clayton & Jordan Gelber

  • Southpaw
  • Creed
  • The Fighter

No, theres scenes of violence, bad language, sex and drug abuse.

Bleed For This filmed in the state of Rhode Island, using the actual locations where the real life events occurred.

Miles Teller trained with boxing trainer Darrell Foster, who'd trained fighters like Sugar Ray Leonard and helped Will Smith become Muhammad Ali for 2001's Ali.

This marks Ben Younger's first film in eleven years. The last film he directed was Prime in 2005.