BLEED FOR THIS
by The Commander
2 ½ (out of 4 stars)
The story of Vinnie “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza will go down as one of the greatest boxing comebacks in history. Vinny (Miles Teller) had stacked up an impressive streak of 5 boxing wins where upon his 6th fight, he obtained the IBF World Lightweight Championship over Greg Haugen. Upon entering the junior welterweight division, he suffered a string of losses having trouble making the weight for that division.
After losing a fight for the WBC World Light Welterweight title to Roger Mayweather, his boxing career seemed to be at an end. His boxing manager, Lou Duva (Ted Levine) publicly stated it was time for him to hang up his gloves. Vinny’s father, Angelo (Ciaràn Hinds), who served as his coach, confronts Duva who declines to grant him another fight. Vinnie hires Kevin Rooney (Aaron Ekhart), a washed up, alcoholic trainer as his coach. Both were cast aside and thrown out with yesterday's newspapers so they became matched for each other. Kevin notices that Vinnie's weight was the secret behind his strength, so he moves him up two weight classes where he could compete in the Light Middleweight division. Vinny is chosen to fight Gilbert Dele where he wins by decision, now holding the title of WBA World Light Middleweight title, thus setting up a fight with Robert Duràn.
Several days later as Vinny is heading to the Foxwoods Casino in upstate Connecticut with his friend Jimmy, they are hit by an oncoming car. Jimmy has minor injuries while Vinny has is critically injured, breaking his neck, a career ending injury. After regaining consciousness, Vinny is informed that he may never walk again and never fight again. The doctor suggests a spinal fusion to secure the neck and prevent further injury.
Disregarding medical advice, he decides against the spinal fusion and options for a 6 months torturous Halo traction, stabilizing his head. This is the procedure where they drill holes in your head attaching a circular metal brace connected by screws, held up by 4 rods to your shoulders which keeps your head from moving. It's an agonizing torturous ordeal that no one should endure.
I thought the cast in this movie was amazing. The only problem I had with this movie was with director's interpretation of the story. Ben Younger is no stranger to directing, his low budget film Boiler Room (2000) starring Giovanni Rubisi, Ben Afleck and Vin Diesel was a good film and financial success. While the story maybe true to form, the fight sequences were not. Younger stole too much from the Rocky series and didn't portray Vinny’s actual fights. He didn't get the nickname ‘Pazmanian Devil’ for no reason, he was a “live wire’ entering and leaving the ring. In his fight against Roberto Durànd he painted his face red, white and blue and by the end it was totally covered in blood but no such facial painting existed in the movie. This takes away from Vinnie the fighter versus the story of Vinnie and his accident.
I thought Teller portrayed Vinnie as good as anybody but Younger’s ending to the film left the audience dumbfounded. It was not the knockout blow that we expected.