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Bleed for This

6/10

Stars: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katey Sagal, Ciar√°n Hinds, Tina Casciani, Amanda Clayton, Ted Levine, Jordan Gelber

Director: Ben Younger

Boxing movies are a bit passé these days, but here's one that, on balance, was probably worth the telling.

Bumped up a couple of weights by a canny trainer (Eckhart), real-life fighter Vinnie Pazienza (Teller, doing a good job, if slightly lacking in charisma) becomes Junior Middleweight champion of the world.

A few weeks later, he's severely injured in a car crash; his back is broken and doctors tell him he may not walk again, let alone fight.

Given halo surgery, involving screws inserted into his head in four places, Vinnie is soon walking but, despite being cosseted by his father (Hinds, hamming the Italo-American papa up) and family, longs to return to the ring.

His subsequent achievements lead him into a record-book entry as the greatest boxing comeback of all time.

Eckhart, looking, with his shaven forehead, a dead ringer for Chris Meloni of TV's Law and Order, is very good as the trainer, full of nervous energy - an outstanding performance that comes across as totally natural, always finding more in the role than meets the eye.

The fights themselves are staged with reasonable authenticity, but there's little here we haven't seen before in a boxing movie, and the film could also have done with a stronger female lead; Casciani as Vinnie's girl is, admittedly with limited screentime, no more than adequate.

David Quinlan

USA 2016. UK Distributor: Icon. Colour (unspecified).
115 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 29 Nov 2016