Bleed For This is a biopic about Vinny Pazienza, a famous boxer who was on the verge of being a massive superstar when he had a near-fatal car accident. It seemed like he would be paralysed for good, but with therapy and training, he was back in the ring within a year of the accident. It’s considered one of the greatest sports comebacks in history.
Pazienza is played by Miles Teller, who played the lead in Whiplash, but Teller is horribly miscast: he is too young-looking, looks nothing like the real-life character, and lacks the muscular bulk to resemble a boxer. Although it’s clear that he has tried hard to fill the role, the difference between Teller and Pazienza is obvious at the end of the film, when some footage of the real boxer is shown. Teller worked out with Sugar Ray Leonard’s trainer and gained 45 pounds, but it doesn’t quite get there. It was made on a fairly small budget and shot over just 24 days. Considering the kind of film it is, a bit more preparation might have made for more convincing lead performance.
It’s a solid story with a vibe not unlike Raging Bull, with an Italian-American boxer in the lead and Martin Scorsese on the film as a producer. Aaron Eckhart, almost unrecognisable with a receding hairline and a bit of extra weight, is the stand-out as his coach. Eckhart always puts in a great performance as a guy who had also been Mike Tyson’s trainer. Ted Levine (Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs), always an interesting actor, plays the manager.
You’ve seen this story before to some extent, as it’s a fairly conventional boxing movie. What gives it more weight is that it’s a true story.’ You definitely feel the guy’s pain and sympathise with his situation, especially during the harrowing sequence when he is being fitted for a screwed-on ‘halo’ to stabilise his head injury.
The disc includes some short featurettes, the trailer and deleted scenes.