DVD review: The Bleeder (3 out of 5)

Pooch Hall as Muhammed Ali and Liev Schreiber in The Bleeder
Pooch Hall as Muhammed Ali and Liev Schreiber in The Bleeder

There have been a couple of good boxing movies out so far this year, providing a fascinating insight to real-life characters.

My Name is Lenny looked at the career of British boxer Lenny McLean.

However, The Bleeder is also an absorbing insight, but this time into American Chuck Wepner, who fought Muhammad Ali for the world title and was the inspiration for the Rocky movies.

Wepner, a liquor salesman from New Jersey, could take a punch and his endurance helped notch up his moderate success.

However, he was rather prone to cuts (hence his derogatory nickname of The Bleeder).

The movie reveals a man thrown into the limelight due to the unexpected Ali fight (he nearly lasted the 15 rounds), and who believed he was a real star due to his association with the Rocky franchise.

It all falls apart for Wepner with his career tumbling to fights against a bear and even a boxing/wrestling match with Andre the Giant (one of the stars of movie The Princess Bride).

Plus his home life pretty much ends up in tatters due to drugs, booze and other women.

But when you’re at the bottom the only way is up.

Liev Schreiber is great as Wepner and he’s backed up by good performances from Elisabeth Moss, Naomi Watts and Ron Perlman.

There’s a great use of real footage from the 70s, to give a feeling of the period, and the boxing scenes are particularly realistic.

Overall, it’s a good biopic of one of the sport’s intriguing characters.

Lionsgate UK presents The Bleeder on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital from August 21.