Director: Ben Younger
Starring: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katey Sagal
I know I normally moan about the amount of times I see the same trailer in front of a film at the cinema, but the ‘Bleed for This’ trailer was always one I enjoyed watching, no matter how many times I had seen it. The music in the trailer always had me tapping my feet and each time I saw it, I would find myself wanting to know more about the real story behind the film, which I had a good read-up on before my viewing.
‘Bleed for This’ is a biographical boxing film that is based on the incredible career of 5 times world champion boxer Vinny Pazienza (played in the film by Miles Teller), who was in a near-fatal car accident that broke his neck in 1991. After being told by Doctors that he may never walk again, Vinny is determined to prove them wrong and get back in the ring. Vinny refuses spinal fusion surgery and instead opts for the ‘Halo’ which is a brace to support his neck that has to be screwed into his skull. Despite the threat of worsening his injuries, Vinny secretly starts to train himself again in his basement and later persuades his coach Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) to get him fighting fit again, ready to get back in the ring and be the champion he knows he was born to be.
Miles Teller gave an incredible portrayal of Pazienza from start to finish, really capturing the boxers charm, humour and determination. In the scenes following the car accident we see a different side to Pazienza, a man who is down but by no means out, despite what everyone else around him thinks. During both the highs and the lows, Teller delivers in each and every scene, giving one of his best performances to date. Aaron Eckhart, who plays Kevin Rooney, is almost unrecognisable in this role. Rooney had previously trained Mike Tyson and then trained Pazienza both before and after the car accident. Eckhart’s character has his own demons to battle, but this doesn’t deter from the main story and it’s actually evident that Vinny’s recovery is helping Rooney deal with his alcohol problem, but that fact doesn’t steal the spotlight from the real story here. Eckhart played this role brilliantly, even throwing in some seriously smooth dance moves during one scene, and it was clear to see how conflicted his character was during Vinny’s recovery when asked to help him train again.
This extraordinary story was brilliantly written and directed by Ben Younger and I think the story had the perfect amount of pre and post-accident scenes that truly show Pazienza’s character, strength and heart during this trialling period of his life. The fight scenes were tense, well-choreographed and superbly shot, with an excellent and fitting soundtrack throughout. The soundtrack, which is currently playing in the background as I type this, is a perfect mixture of songs that fit the tone of the film and never feel out of place, with songs to match the different tones of the scenes they’re in. The real Vinny Pazienza was very much involved with the making of this film, meaning a lot of the dialogue and scenes were as accurate as could be, even down to a leopard print thong that Pazienza wore to a weigh-in that is shown at the beginning of the film. Knowing that fact made the film even more astonishing for me because the content and dialogue were as close to the real thing as we could get.
I can whole-heartily say this film beat my initial high expectations, which is down to the terrific performances from all involved in this film, and Younger’s direction and screenplay. Vinny Pazienza is truly a man with heart and determination and a source of motivation and inspiration to many people. Whilst at first you may find yourself questioning his actions and thinking he’s just stubborn for refusing to listen to everyone around him, you quickly begin to realise that Vinny’s relentlessness is actually admirable and inspirational.
Tom’s rating: 8.8 out of 10