Bleed for This (2016)
Buy Bleed for This on Amazon Video
Written by: Ben Younger (screenplay), Ben Younger & Pippa Bianco and Angelo Pizzo (story)
Directed by: Ben Younger
Starring: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katey Sagal, Ciarán Hinds
My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!
Based on the true story of Vinny Pazienza, where a near fatal car crash in 1991 left the World Champion boxer with a broken neck, he made an incredible comeback to become a world champion again in just thirteen months.
This is different from the typical boxing movie. In this, the villain is Pazienza's injuries instead of another brooding and muscled boxer. It's an amazing comeback, that doesn't quite translate to the screen. The real life story is more interesting than what we see.
While boxing is all Pazienza knows, I didn't quite get the push to make a comeback no matter what. He never seemed to take his matches that seriously before. Maybe the accident changed his drive and he refused to give up something he loves to do. I can only speculate because the movie doesn't answer this, and it definitely should. We never really know his motivation to risk the ability to walk so that he can still box.
While this doesn't succumb to the typical boxing movie tropes like Hands of Stone (read my review),
it still doesn't give us enough of a character for which to root.
Pazienza made an amazing comeback, but we don't feel that moment of
triumph. This recounts the events but doesn't take us there.
While the doctor recommends a spinal fusion which guarantees he can walk again but never fight, Pazienza opts for a halo. It's rods and a metal harness bolted to his skull to stabilize and help his spine heal. With the halo, the danger is that it may not work, leaving him paralyzed. The movie had mentioned risks versus gambles and this seems like a gamble. He bets it all and wins. It works out so what's the moral here?
Pazienza began training while still wearing the halo. I'd like to know how close he came to really injuring himself. We never know the real risk factor. Getting the halo off was a crazy moment as the doctor uses a ratchet to remove the screws. Suffice to say it hurts just a bit.
His first fight back is a title bout against Roberto "Hands of Stone" Duran, though that's not how reality played out. He didn't fight for a title right out of the gate.
The final scene is an interview with the character. It sinks the momentum of the last fight, and while it provides more insight into Pazienza, that development should have come much earlier in the movie.
The pieces are here, they're just under-developed.