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Title: Bleed For This

Movie: :3.5stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :2stars:

HTS Overall Score:78

It seems that Boxing has fallen out of grace in the public filmgoer’s eyes as of late. It used to be that someone stepping into the ring meant enormous financial success and multiple sequels. “Raging Bull”, “Rocky”, “Rocky II”, “Rocky IV”, “The Boxer”, etc were knockouts. Over the last 15-20 years, though, things have changed around. Much like the western, the boxing epic has taken a slight decline in popularity, despite a decent stream of them hitting the cinematic market. Even great films lie “The Fighter”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “The Hurricane” and a few others haven’t managed to rekindle that long-lost sparkle (well, besides “Rocky Balboa”, which upset everyone when Stallone actually pulled that one off). “Bleed For This” is a well done film in the genre that doesn’t’ pave any new ground, but manages to make me smile and cheer for the true story of one of the most epic comebacks in the history of the sport.

Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller) was an accomplished fighter back in the late 70s. He had a whopping 50 wins and 10 losses, and carried the nickname of the Pazmanian Devil for his never-ending tenacity. No matter how many times he hit the ground, Vinny came back up swinging, usually ending up in the winner’s circle. This all changed for Vinny when a horrific car accident robs him of his ability to walk and function. With a shattered neck, Vinny is basically a dead man, in terms of fighting. However, Vinny Paz doesn’t quit for ANYBODY, and refuses to have his spine and neck fused together so that he can live a semi normal life. Instead he puts on the iron halo (you know, that massive iron right that locks your head upright) and continues to look forward to the day that he can fight again.

At first it seems like a losing battle. His neck injury is just too severe. Every step he takes, every attempt at lifting a single weight puts him in screaming pain. However, with the help of his old trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart), Vinny slowly but surely starts to recover. Recovering from your injuries is one thing, but recovering from the fall from grace that Vinny underwent is something else. Raring to go, the fighter is begging for a fight, but no one wants to actually be the one to put Vinny back into the hospital again, so door after door shuts in his face. Even his old manager, Lou Duva (Ted Levine), can’t seem to get him any work until footage of the wounded fighter’s recovery training makes it out into the press, prompting a new wave of support for the Pazmanian Devil. Now he’s got the fight of the lifetime. A fight against Robert Duran for the light middleweight champion of the world with a $1.6 million purse.

Writer/Director Ben Younger gives us a fairly balanced and accurate portrayal of Vinny Paz’s fall from grace and subsequent rising out of the ashes. “Bleed for This” is steadily paced film that takes its time getting to the punchline, and then dazzles us with the classic finale fight that every boxing fan is waiting for. Younger pays special attention to the feel and ambiance of the late 70s/early 80s, including clothing, color timing (well, what we CONSIDER 70s color timing) and the creepy thin mustache that Vinny was known for. It never tries to be something greater than what it is, or add upon reality. What happened in the film pretty much happened in real life, something which is rather rare for “based on a true story” films.

The heart and soul of the movie are Miles Teller and Aaron Eckhart, both of whom give it their all. Everyone else, no matter if they are Katy Sagal, Cian Hinds or even Ted Levine, just fades into the background and you’re left with our two stars. Miles Teller was on a raging path to success a few years back, but now seems to be taking more mainstream and low end films to make ends meet. That’s not to say he’s not good as the Italian American boxer from Rhode Island. In fact, he’s one of the best parts of the movie. His forceful nature and brusque attitude that he portrays in most of his movies pairs well with the ferocious personality of a boxer. The other side of that coin is Aaron Eckhart. Eckhart is almost completely unrecognizable here, and I’m not just talking about physically. Aaron actually shaved part of his head and gained 45 actual pounds (no fat suit or padding here) to play Roony, and his personality is so different than what we’ve come to expect from the physically imposing actor that it’s mind boggling.


Rated R for language, sexuality/nudity and some accident images

Video :4.5stars:
Once again I can’t seem to find out any information on what cameras were used, but my personal guess would be that they were digital of some sort. The 2.40:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray looks fantastic, with intimate detailing along clothing and the scarring of Vinny’s face showing up with exquisitely. Backdrops of the fight ring show drops of sweat and blood splashed across them and the makeup making Ted Levine look older than he is shows up a little TOO well I might add. The colors lean a bit towards golden and earthy tones to simulate our view of the 1970s, but there is plenty of primary pop to boot. Blood shows up with that deep, rich, well saturated look and the crisp whites and blues of the training gear show up wonderfully. Blacks are appropriately deep and inky, and show off enough shadow detail to have me give a solid thumbs up.

Audio :4stars:
For being a boxing movie, “Bleed for This” is a surprisingly talky film. The front sound stage takes up a goodly portion of the film with lots and lots of dialog throughout. However, there are several very pertinent moments throughout the movie that liven up the sound stage with some seriously visceral material. The opening fight with Vinny, the bone crunching smash of car accident we were all dreading, and the absolutely pulsating fight between Vinny Paz and Roberto Duran for the last 20 minutes. Each of those scenes sparks the surrounds to life with the crowd cheering, the punches impacting from all sides, or the horrible screeching of tires and the resulting destruction that followed. LFE is clean and powerful, adding weight to punches, a guttural roar to the crowd, and fantastic addition to the more intense moments of the score.

Extras :2stars:

• Inspired by a Legend
• An Authentic World
• Deleted Scenes

Overall: :4stars:

“Bleed for This” is not a perfect movie, but it is certainly an entertaining one. The second act drags a bit, and the film is much more of a character study than an appeal to pathos, or a wildly energizing boxing movie. The finale, on the other hand, brings us all the energy and excitement that boxing fans were waiting for, and added a much-needed boost as the follow-up to the sluggish second act. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, but the extras are a tad slim for tastes. Again, not a perfect film, but an entertaining film about a real-life hero makes this a solid rental at least. Recommended for a watch/rental

Additional Information:

Starring: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katey Sagal
Directed by: Ben Younger
Written by: Ben Younger
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Universal
Rated: R
Runtime: 117 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: February 14th, 2017

Buy Bleed For This On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Rental/Good Watch

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