Movie Review: The Bleeder (2016)

Starring: Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts and Ron Perlman

Directed by: Philippe Falardeau

The story of Chuck Wepner, also known as the Bayonne Bleeder was the pride of Bayonne, New Jersey after he went fifteen rounds in the ring with Muhammad Ali and the real life inspiration behind Rocky Balboa.

Rocky Balboa is possibly one of the most famous and recognisable characters to come from cinema but little did I know Sylvester Stallone took his inspiration from Chuck Wepner. Wepner was a decent prize fighter who got the call to fight Muhammad Ali just after Ali beat George Foreman to become champion. Chuck was a guy who could take a beating with a chin made from granite and here he is, the opportunity of a lifetime. He became an overnight sensation after almost going the distance and knocking Ali down during the fight and with the fame weighing heavily on his shoulders his whole world begins to crumble around him.

Liev Schreiber stars as Chuck Wepner and puts on a fairly decent performance as a rugged individual who deep down has a heart of gold but isn’t always aware of the consequences of his actions until it’s too late. He’s supported with the ever busy Ron Perlman and Naomi Watts who plays his love interest after his antics lands him in hot water with his wife. This movie really highlights the negative impact 15 minutes of fame can have on somebody who just wasn’t ready for it and the downward spiral it can take. The story is also told in a completely unbiased way which really aided the character development of Chuck Wepner and makes him a somewhat likeable guy.

Unfortunately The Bleeder failed to utilise the talents of Naomi Watts. She’s such an incredible actress with a history of producing great performances who ends up playing a bit part role who has very little screen time. Although a pivotal role in Chuck Wepners rehabilitation after a short prison stint I feel with such a talent at their disposal the casting team really failed to take advantage. Also another disappointing aspect of the movie was there was very little boxing action on display. While I don’t expect a movie about a boxer to be one big montage of boxing, I do expect there to be a fair share of action which The Bleeder lacked.

What The Bleeder did for me was provide an in depth look to the man who inspired Rocky Balboa and how he allowed fame to completely destroy his life. I didn’t have a great deal of expectations going in to The Bleeder but it was a solid movie which was worth watching. Would I watch it again? I’m not 100% sure but possibly.

6/10

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