Running Time: 1 hour and 38 minutes
Directed By: Philippe Falardeau
Chuck (formerly The Bleeder) is a biographical sports drama based on the life of heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner. The character-driven film directed by Philippe Falardeau (Congorama and The Good Lie) absorbs you. Falardeau focuses on Chuck’s story from his rise to fame as the New Jersey Heavyweight Champion to the years following the famous 15-round bout with Muhammad Ali in 1975.
Chuck Wepner likes to call himself the “champ” or the real “Rocky”. Others referred to him as the Bayonne Bleeder due to the number of times he bled during fights. He was in 52 fights. Seventeen (17) of his 35 wins were by knockout.
Actor Liev Schreiber(X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Spotlight) delivers a career defining performance as Chuck Wepner. Schreiber’s portrayal is enthralling. His solid performance is filled with raw emotion, arrogance and determination. He brilliantly pulls off the New Jersey swagger and accent.Naomi Watts and Elizabeth Moss give compelling performances in their supporting roles.
I really enjoyed watching this drama. Falardeau spends most of the film focusing not on the ring, but what takes place outside the ring. In the title fight against Muhammed Ali, Wepner lost in a technical knockout with 19 seconds left in the fight. Earlier in the 9th round, he scored a knockdown against Ali. Wepner’s last fight was held on May 2, 1978 against Scott Frank for the New Jersey State Heaveyweight Championship. He lost the fight in a 12-round decision and retired after the fight.
I would have liked to see a few more minutes of actual boxing since the film ends at 1 hour, 30 minutes. I really liked how the director wrapped up the ending and gave it closure. This film does not have all the special effects that moviegoers are used to these days, but it does not need them. The acting carries the film with support from a talented production, set decoration and makeup department. Overall, this moving film about life’s ups and downs is beautifully shot by Nicolas Bolduc.
Liev Schreiber as Chuck Wepner
Elizabeth Moss as Phyliss
Naomi Watts as Linda
Ron Perlman as Al Braverman
Michael Rapaport as John
Pooch Hall as Muhammad Ali
Jim Gaffigan as John
Morgan Spector as Sly Stallone
Chuck opens Friday, May 19 at AMC Regency. It will appeal to a general audience along with movie-goers that love dramas, history, sports and of course, Rocky fans.