The Bleeder

Drama,Biography

A decent but seen-it-all-before boxing biopic of journeyman Chuck Wepner Discuss this article

2017_bleeder
© ITP Images

This mildly entertaining ’70s and ’80s set rise-and-fall boxing story feels so familiar that you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve seen it a hundred times before.

Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber) was the “Bayonne Bleeder”, a heavyweight fighter from New Jersey famous for gushing blood during matches. He went 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali in 1975 and his story is said to have inspired Sylvester Stallone to write the Rocky movies. (What the movie doesn’t mention is that in 2006 Wepner and Stallone settled out of court after Wepner filed a compensation lawsuit.)

Director Philippe Falardeau piles on a grainy period look, so that when he cuts in archive footage it doesn’t look entirely out of place. But the film’s sense of period feels distinctly secondhand, not helped by its obvious music choices. Luckily, there are good performances, especially from Schreiber and Elisabeth Moss (as his first wife; his second, played by Naomi Watts, has far too little to do).

The most moving moments arrive when Wepner mouths along to his favourite movie performance. It’s a melancholic choice – a washed-up Anthony Quinn in 1962’s Requiem for a Heavyweight. This is one for forgiving fans of macho nostalgia fests. Everyone else might want to revist Raging Bull or Rocky instead.

Bottom line
A decent but seen-it-all-before boxing biopic.

By Dave Calhoun
Time Out Doha,

The Bleeder

  • Released: Thu, 08 Jun
  • Language: English
  • Director: Philippe Falardeau
  • Stars: Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts

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