In November 1988, Vinny Pazienza boxes Roger Mayweather for the WBC World Light Welterweight Title. He arrives late to the weigh-in, as he has been riding a stationary bicycle in order to make the weight limit. Vinny's final weight is 140 pounds even, which qualifies him for the fight. Instead of resting up for the fight, Vinny spends the night at a casino. The following day, he loses to Mayweather. At one point during the fight, Vinny is hit after the bell. His boxing manager Lou Duva causes a scene by going after Mayweather, but is punched as a result. Following the match, Duva tells the media that Vinny should retire from boxing. This angers Vinny's father Angelo (who serves as his coach), and he confronts Duva. In the ensuing argument, Vinny announces that he wants another fight, and hires Kevin Rooney as his coach..
Feeling the lack is the first step to greatness. If you're fine with status quo you may never achieve something bigger. I'm pretty sure I have read something like this somewhere.
At least it's a fitting motto to Bleed for This", the sports movie about this real-life young boxing champ who broke his neck and still managed to get back in form and claim another world champion belt.
More than that, Wikipedia says that he held it for over the next ten years. The guy's called Vinny Paz and he's 54 now, by the way.
So yes, it's another sports movie aiming to the infinity and beyond" but it doesn't go all Hollywood on our asses and actually manages to be a really good indie watch, having both heart and balls.
Bleed for This" came out back in September and circled some festivals before reaching cinemas. The commercial success of the movie, sadly, hasn't been worthy of its tough-as-nails hero. It pretty much came and disappeared without a splash and hasn't gotten any award nominations either, big or small.
Quite why the producers and distributors didn't believe in the project enough to support it some, for Globes and Academy Awards campaign, at least, is beyond my comprehension. It's a true underdog story, also a sports movie – who doesn't like those, eh? – and also good movie in general.
(Probably the post-Trumpian USA needs more unpretentious happy tales like La La Land" which has just managed to pick 7 out of 7 Globes.)
OK but what makes Bleed for This" so great, then? Isn't there enough underdog and sports movies, award-winning or otherwise?
Well, I am glad you asked. In short, I like everything about it! The indie style, the atmosphere and feeling of the early 1990's working class USA, the great group of starring actors, the hardhitting boxing, the screenplay
The result is not perfect – what is, anyway? – and one could nitpick about many things if wanted to.
For example, the movie runs near two hours which is not exactly a short amount of time but one does not get a good sense of Vinny Paz's development as a champion sportsman, or even exactly how the recovery from the big accident went. Of course, it's all explained in passing, but it doesn't satisfy to the fullest.
Maybe it's just me because I enjoyed visiting Vinny's world, family and environment so much that I left the cinema wanting more. Bleed for This" is one of those rather uncommon sports movies that is not afraid to let characters and story breathe and develop enough to lure us in, to make us want really be there for the characters, not just flashy action.
This kind of intimate connection to the movie mostly happens when its makers have strong personal connection with the whole thing too.
Seeing that Ben Younger is the director and the sole writer, we can assume it was a personal project and he makes the most out of everybody on screen.
The big name actors here are Miles Teller as Vinny Paz, Ciarán Hinds as his father (somehow I always confuse the guy with Alfred Molina) and Aaron Eckhart as his boxing trainer.
All the others have given good performances too, but these three are really worth every penny the producers had to spend on them. Which was probably not too much because the budget was about 6 million US dollars and shooting lasted for only 24 days.
They play it rough and raw, turning the characters into believable working-class heroes. Mark Wahlberg would have probably loved to be part of this experience. There are no showoff scenes so there's not much to talk about it, only enjoy it. Feel it, live it, breathe it!
I am especially happy about Aaron Eckhart choosing a worthwhile acting role again for a change. For most of the current decade, he has been doing boring commercial crap which is a world away from the works that made him known in the first place.
Here he seems to channel a younger less fat version of James Gandolfini which is enough for me to wish him a Supporting Actor Oscar, or at least a nomination.
And last but certainly not the least, Bleed for This" cements Miles Teller's position as one of the most promising young American movie actors of his generation.
You almost remember him from big studio projects Divergent" + Insurgent" and 2015's Fantastic Four" but he has also starred in a row of cool indie-er movies such as The Spectacular Now" and Whiplash".
The former quirky cool guy has transformed himself for the never- surrender-type boxer role but manages to turn what on paper seems like a cartoon character into living breathing human being. He should also get nominated for Oscar.
Ben Younger has previously only written and directed two feature length movies, 2000's really good Boiler Room" and 2005's rather meh Prime". It's nice to see him back with another success!
"Bleed for This" doesn't offer a biggest amount of boxing I have seen in a boxing movie. But I just read from IMDb that Teller was trained by Darrell Foster, who has trained fighters like Sugar Ray Leonard and helped Will Smith become Muhammad Ali for 2001's Ali.
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