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The Bleeder

  • Drama
  • Sport
  • 2016
  • Philippe Falardeau
  • 94 mins
  • 15

Summary

Boxing drama based on a true story, starring Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts and Elisabeth Moss. New Jersey in the 1970s: journeyman boxer Chuck Wepner - nicknamed "The Bayonne Bleeder" - is suddenly plucked from obscurity to fight world champion Muhammad Ali. The bout was to change Wepner's life overnight, and acted as the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone's Rocky Balboa in the Rocky films.

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Review

A star rating of 3 out of 5.

There's a unique blurring of boxing fact and fiction in this fascinating biopic. The name Chuck Wepner may mean little to non-fight fans but the journeyman pugilist from New Jersey was actually the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone's Rocky Balboa. Renowned for his durability and ability to take a punch, the "Bayonne Bleeder" - Wepner's unwelcome moniker - was thrust into the limelight when he faced Muhammad Ali in 1975 and put the champ on the canvas, only to be bloodily battered to defeat in the 15th round. Director Philippe Falardeau can't help but channel prime Scorsese (voiceover, snappy pacing, 70s backdrop) as he teases out the tale of "the real Rocky" (played by Ray Donovan's Liev Schreiber). The rise-and-fall clichés are all here - marital problems, coke-fuelled self-destruction, prison, redemption - but this drama is as much about Chuck's inability to distinguish between his not-so-glamorous real life and the Rocky character he inspired, which adds poignancy. Though not in the class of knockout fight yarns like Cinderella Man, The Fighter and The Wrestler, the spirited performances from Schreiber (who also co-scripted), Morgan Spector (as Stallone), and Elisabeth Moss and Naomi Watts (as the feisty women in his life) keep overfamiliarity at bay.

How to watch

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Credits

Cast

rolename
Chuck WepnerLiev Schreiber
Linda WepnerNaomi Watts
Phyllis WepnerElisabeth Moss
Al BravermanRon Perlman
Don WepnerMichael Rapaport
Sylvester StalloneMorgan Spector
John StoehrJim Gaffigan
Muhammad AliPooch Hall

Crew

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DirectorPhilippe Falardeau

Details

Languages
English
Guidance
Violence, swearing, nudity, drug abuse
Available on
DVD and Blu-ray
Formats
Colour
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