Boxing movies deliver a punch in 'The Bleeder,' 'Bleed for This'

Thu Sep 15, 2016 7:16pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Boxing movies are making a comeback lately, although they are often more about the struggles of fighters outside the ring than the punches they land on their opponents.

"Bleed for This," shown at the Toronto Film Festival this week, tells the true story of American middleweight Vinny Pazienza's successful return to the ring just 13 months after fracturing his neck in car crash in 1991.

Pazienza, played by "Whiplash" star Miles Teller, went on to become a five-time world champion despite being told by doctors he would never box again. He now goes by the name Vinnie Paz.

The movie, along with another Toronto festival film, "The Bleeder," follows last year's critically acclaimed "Creed," Jake Gyllenhaal's "Southpaw" and Robert De Niro's new movie "Hands of Stone," about legendary Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran.

"To me it isn't a boxing movie," said Bruce Cohen, producer of "Bleed for This."

"It's about belief, it's about faith, it's about family, it's about all these themes that ran through Vinnie Pazienza's life that allowed him to make this extraordinary comeback," Cohen added.

Aaron Eckhart, who plays Pazienza's coach, Kevin Rooney, said it was not a traditional boxing movie.

"Movies are about people," Eckhart said. "We like to watch people that have circumstances similar to our own, so you're going to see a family up there that loves each other and worries about each other and believes in each other."

"The Bleeder," charts the life of U.S. heavyweight Chuck Wepner, who is said to have inspired the "Rocky" films starring Sylvester Stallone. Wepner, played by Liev Schreiber, was plucked out of obscurity to fight Muhammad Ali in 1975 before his career fell part and he served 18 months in prison on a drug conviction.   Continued...

Director Ben Younger poses with actors Miles Teller (R) and Aaron Eckhart (L) as they arrive on the red carpet for the film "Bleed for This" during the 41st Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), in Toronto, Canada, September 12, 2016.    REUTERS/Mark Blinch