The Bleeder Blu-ray Review
The real Rocky Balboa
Movies reviewSRP: £9.99
Charting the little-known story of the man who (unofficially) inspired Rocky, The Bleeder (aka Chuck) pulls no punches.Twinged with an inherent sense of bitterness and resentment that is impossible to cover up, even in the early stages of the story, this true tale looks at the (relatively) little known New Jersey fighter Chuck Wepner (nicknamed The Bayonne Bleeder because he could take a beating but it often got bloody) who - through being in the right place at the right time - managed to get a shot at the title despite his somewhat average boxing career. The underdog match proved to provide some significant element of victory in bloody defeat, but Chuck's 15 rounds of fame didn't necessarily turn his life around, seeing his marriage tailspin into oblivion, and a little fooling around with cocaine suddenly turning serious.Chuck's story was - and is - alleged to be the inspiration for Stallone's Rocky (with more than a few parallels with Raging Bull), and this is where the resentment and bitterness sets in, with the movie hammering home the undeniable similarities in spite of (or perhaps because of) the fact that Stallone has never officially admitted this; something which fans of the star might find more than a little disturbing. Despite his incongruous age, Liev Shreiber delivers a commanding performance as the 'real' Rocky, with some understated support from Naomi Watts and Elizabeth Moss, and The Bleeder (unnecessarily and unpleasantly renamed from its original title, Chuck) paints a fresh tale, in spite of its familiar story.
Picture QualityThe Bleeder comes to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray complete with a strong, authentically period 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. With a gritty style, the look of the piece perfectly suits the 70s setting, and is actually so rich and convincing that it struggles a little bit to ease out of the seventies with any discernible shift in style.
A solid, at times very good presentation
Detail doesn't appear to suffer from the chosen style, with a pervasive sheen of natural grain persisting throughout the piece, but plenty of texture and nuance beneath it. It's fairly consistent too, allowing for a nice viewing experience despite - on the face of it - not looking anything like the kind of movie that makes for demo material in the digital age.
The colour scheme is entrenched in the same period feel, revelling in muted reds, browns and autumn tones, whilst black levels are surprisingly strong, rich and deep. Overall, with few digital defects to complain of, it's a solid, at times very good presentation, and works well to provide a suitable style for the piece.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also does a solid job on the aural front, delivering the goods without pomp and grandeur, and whilst it will likely never be used for demo purposes, it has a few 'punchy' moments, and some more engulfing sequences in amidst the generally low-key material.
A solid and at times 'punchy' aural presence
Dialogue remains clear and consistent, up front and centre, whilst the fight sequences offer hard and punishing impacts, sounding bloody and brutal with enough weight to hit home. Some of the excess party scenes also bring era-reflective song tracks to the fore, sweeping you up in the mayhem, and the music plays an important part in the proceedings. There isn't enough on offer here to make for a vibrant, consistently engaging aural offering, but there's enough to give the movie a solid aural presence.
Blu-ray VerdictA fresh tale, in spite of the familiar story
The Bleeder's UK Region B-locked Blu-ray release offers up strong video and solid audio, and despite zero extras, fans will still want to check it out. For those interested, this real-life flipside to the Rocky underdog story is a revealing, well-acted, small-scale piece.
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