Bleed For This 
A Review By Ben Hunter
3 Out Of 5 Stars


Maybe the next boxing film will have the hands to knock us out. 


When faced with a tragic accident, Vinny “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza (Vinny Paz) is presented with the difficult choice of what path to now journey upon.  As boxing is his blood, deep family ties that support him, a lifetime of commitment to this point, having just won a championship at what feels like everything is just getting started, Vinny (Miles Teller) just can’t give up.  He doesn’t want to stop his heart’s direction and completely walk another path, for it isn’t who he is.  

His body, however, might say otherwise.  Due to the accident, his doctor fears he may never walk again and tries to convince Vinny, along with his loved ones who just want him to live, to go along with a medical procedure that would guarantee normal functionality of Vinny’s body, but would also guarantee that he’ll never get in the ring ever again.  

As a stubborn, hard headed, Italian tough guy from Rode Island (you’d think New York if I didn’t say that), Vinny doesn’t give up on what moves him, what motivates him, what makes him, and comprises the fiber of his tenacity.  He just won’t quit.  So he takes a gamble and relies solely on his body to heal itself with the proper bracing to keep everything in place (a “halo” body brace).  One small slip up or improper aligning of his spinal cord and he risks fatal injury.  

Vinny Paz (Miles Teller) in Bleed For This.  
Everyone is telling Vinny to quit and he just can’t take that!  He’s tired of everyone talking to him as if he’s dead.  He knows his life isn’t over, but no one else can see that.  In fact, director Ben Younger puts us, the audience, in more of his family’s shoes.  Who his trainer Kevin (nicely done in a new direction of character by Aaron Eckhart) is the only one to muster up the courage to say to Vinny’s face what we’re all thinking … that he’ll never fight again.

Do we accept what life throws in our path as empirical evidence to go another path?  When do we know to throw in the towel of the fight to achieve our goals?  As Vinny lay broken in his halo, he tells his trainer Kevin, “I know how to give up.  But you know what really scares the crap out of me? … Is that it’s easy.”  Just like that, what you’ve fought for since you can remember … is gone.  Now you have to force yourself to love another dream?  To live another life?  This CAN be your new path but, is that final?  Do YOU have any say in your own destiny?  

“Now get out there and show me how you do things.  Show me how you live.  Show me how you fight! … … Show me who you are!”  

Never … give up! 

It was fun seeing what a part of the world was up to when I was a little boy growing up in the 80’s.  The mood, the era, and the pure loving hateful dynamic of an east coast Italian family was spot on!  Seeing Vinny interact with his sister and her idiot fiance, his mother who could never see a single camera frame of her son’s matches but waiting in the other room clutching her crucifix as fearful as any mother would be, his father ringside and his manager that he trusts with his life, I loved the relationships that were established by those close to our fighting hero.  

Other than that, my emotions were kept in check pretty well throughout.  And a boxing movie is supposed to fight you and hit you square in the gut or the jaw and knock them right out with a vengeance.  I was hopeful for another Creed that does this whole emotions knock-out thing quite well, but with a much tighter story as the screenplay needed work.  Bleed for This, by the trailer, appeared to have all the heart and emotion but with a more substantial narrative.  A film that middle aged, stereotypical women could still enjoy as the fighting and violence was tame and meek and the emotionality of the story, development and relationships of the characters and such were more what this was about.  

Vinny questions the capability of his life's goals in his new predicament.  
Yeah, no, scratch all that.  It attempted such, but crashed almost as hard as Vinny’s accident that took him out of the ring in the first place.  The storyline was mellow and un-electrified.  The characters there and ready with no where to go.  The ferocity of its potential simply not there.  

A lot of heart, packed a couple punches that make it an enjoyable experience if you’re looking for something fun this Turkey Day Experience.  But in no way what I hoped or what it sells itself as.  And with boxing films dealing with such big, emotional premises, that set the tone before Bleed, it had some pretty big gloves to fill.  

Maybe the next boxing film will have the hands.  

Bleed For This (2016)
Drama, 116 Minutes, R
Story By: Ben Younger & Angelo Pizzo, and Pippa Bianco
Screenplay By: Ben Younger
Directed By: Ben Younger
Cast: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katy Sagal, Amanda Clayton, Ted Levine, Tina Casciani, Christine Evangelista, & Ciarán Hinds

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