Miles Teller stars as Vinny Pazienza in this biographical drama which follows the inspiring events that saw “The Pazmanian Devil” recover from near fatal injuries sustained in a car crash to return to boxing ring and fight again.
The film opens with Vinny loosing a world title fight against Roger Mayweather, and being hospitalised afterwards with severe dehydration. With weight cutting problems, the fight with Mayweather marked three losses in a row, and according to his manager Lou Duva (Ted Levine) left his ability to draw a crowd waning. Out of options, Vinny is sent to train with former Tyson trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart), both now on the fringes of the boxing world. However after the pair hit it off, and Vinny moving up two weight classes, they secure a title fight which they are triumphant in. But soon after the fight, Vinny is a passenger in a car collision that results in doctors telling him he might not even walk again. As determined as ever, Vinny sets out to show the world he is not just a fighter in the the ring.
So Ben Younger is back in the directors chair for the first time in a long time, and with him comes the methodical direction he brought to his breakout first film Boiler Room. Now unlike your usual phoenix from the ashes arc, which this very much is, Bleed For This centres the life changing accident in the narrative, instead of using it right at the beginning. As a result it makes the film about more than just coming back from the brink, but an actual observation of this boxers life before and after the event. Though it doesn’t present the chest pounding glee one might associate with Rocky, it is a refreshing change of pace and style from an overplayed narrative in boxing films. That being said, it still contains the cliches associated with its more straightforward counterparts like Southpaw.
The comeback Vinny Paz made from such injuries is nothing short of incredible, however the colourful performances from Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, and Ciaran Hinds remarkably overshadow the feat itself. Despite the structured pacing throughout the majority of the film, the final fight and return to greatness following the tough slog to recovery feels all too swift, and a touch unrealistic. In fact the final fight against Roberto Duran plays like Vinny is loosing for most of the fight, to the point where you can’t actually believe he won. Overall though Bleed for This takes a peek into Vinny Paz’s career before the accident, and touches on some other points that revolve around the injury, it still winds up following your generic comeback story line beat for beat. Bleed for This might not be a KO victory, but thanks to some strong workman like performances from it’s cast and some powerful inside the pocket direction from Ben Younger it brings home a memorable decision win.