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  • Philippe Falardeau, the acclaimed director of The Good Lie and the Oscar nominated Monsieur Lazhar comes forth with a period piece of New Jersey in the 1970's with a new film, The Bleeder, a drama, starring Liev Schreiber, known for his television role as Ray Donovan in the series "Ray Donovan," and as Marty Baron in last year's Oscar-winning Best Picture, Spotlight. Schreiber portrays boxer Chuck Wepner, the heavyweight champion of New Jersey, and often known more colorfully as the Bayonne Bleeder.

    When he wasn't in the ring, Wepner was a liquor salesman on the mean streets of New Jersey who managed to last 15 rounds in a professional boxing match with the greatest fighter of all-time – Muhammad Ali. Legendary boxing promoter Don King wanted a race fight and sought out a white fighter to get into the ring with the Champ, Muhammad Ali.

    Wepner seemed to be a good choice to be Ali's punching bag. Wepner had a reputation for being able to take a punch. And, true to King's intention, Wepner took a beating. Not as though it was anything new for Wepner. In his ten years as a boxer he had his nose broken eight times, had 133 stitches, suffered fourteen losses and two knockouts. He was once pummeled so badly by Sonny Liston suffering both a broken nose and a broken cheekbone that required extensive stitching to heal.

    Yet, Wepner had managed to put together a string of good fights and began to believe and have faith that his dream of getting a title shot was in reach. While not a great fighter, Wepner was known for his big heart, his ability to take a beating and come back for more. As a matter of record, Wepner became the first man to knock Ali off his feet inside the ring during a title fight. A furious Ali got back up and pulverized Wepner without mercy culminating in the fight ending 19 seconds into the 15th round. Sylvester Stallone based his Rocky franchise on Wepner's life.

    Director Falardeau exquisitely turns what might easily have been another boxing movie into a relationship piece illuminating Wepner's most difficult moments outside the ring. He depicts the 1970's much like Martin Scorcese's Taxi Driver – seedy, wild women, drugs, booze – along with exceptional highs and disastrous lows.

    After Rocky became the hit of 1976 garnering ten Oscar nominations and three wins for Best Picture, Best Director and for Best Editing, Wepner began letting the world of New Jersey nightlife know he was the real life Rocky and to many he was. Jim Gaffigan plays, John Stoehr, Wepner's best friend and loyal steward who is shown as mostly living vicariously through Chuck. A most telling scene occurs when Cinematographer Nicolas Bolduc takes the audience down inside the clubbing world of the honky-tonk, disco era of the 1970's with the fur coats, gold chains, silky rayon tops, sequined gowns, costume jewelry and the dance music of the Bee Gee's. Here Wepner not only succumbs to the temptation of the drugs, booze and casual sex, he ultimately seems to confuse his own life with the screen life of Rocky Balboa as John looks on in giddy bewilderment.

    Soon Wepner decides to confronts Stallone about Rocky. Stallone, played by Morgan Spector, seems genuinely flattered and invites Wepner to audition for a real-life role in Rocky II. A drug infused, boozed up Wepner, blows the audition as his life is now in a virulent downward spiral. Finally, after he shows up late and misses his 2nd grade daughter's Parents Day, his wife, Phyllis, played by Elisabeth Moss calls it quits. Wepner knows he's falling. Yet, he finds a glimpse of hope with a local bartender, Linda, played by Schreiber's real-life wife, Naomi Watts. The two hit it off with some playful banter before the bottom drops out for Wepner and he's sent to prison for drug trafficking. This becomes Stallone's impetus for his 1989 film Lock Up. Wepner is called upon to be a consultant and is shown in shackles and prison garb. Yet, when he sees Stallone staging the story, he realizes his life is not Stallone's version. This is the turning point of the film and for Chuck Wepner. He reconciles with his brother John, played sharply by Michael Rappaport and eventually marries Linda and the two spend the rest of their lives together in close relationship.

    The Bleeder, full of rich costuming and fine cinematography, is at its core a period piece of the 1970's including the role boxing played in the public domain. In addition, it is also a strong narrative of the trials and tribulations of Chuck Wepner's life. It's a life affirming story as Wepner goes the distance and gets the girl in the end. Warmly recommended.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    My rule for evaluating the necessity of biopics is always this: Is there a reason to tell the story? "Chuck" easily passes that test, as the life on which Sylvester Stallone's "Rocky" was loosely based on is fascinating in its own right. As such, fans of biopics are going to at least find something to enjoy about this one. The problem holding it back from being much more than "good" is that the acting talent assembled far outpaces the breadth and scope of the screenplay they have to work with.

    For a basic plot summary, "Chuck" tells the basic story of how professional boxer Chuck Wepner (Liev Schrieber) was given an opportunity to fight Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight championship of the world. He went 15 rounds with the champ, and hence the "legend was born", so to speak. The film follows Wepner considerably past that fight, however, chronicling how the fame may have gotten in his head a bit and a drug habit was formed.

    This is a pretty straightforward biopic as these things go, touching on all the salient points that one would expect. It does a good job of making the viewer really feel as if they are understanding Wepner's life and how he became what he ultimately became, which is kind of the goal of any biopic.

    What most strongly stood out here was the acting. Schrieber is a great lead, while other talent with Elisabeth Moss, Naomi Watts, & Ron Perlman played great supporting roles. Clearly, with those type of names attached to this project it was meant to gather some steam behind it.

    Sadly, this didn't really happen (I don't think this got a big theatrical run), and I believe the culprit to be a screenplay that is decidedly average in its storytelling technique. It hints at "something more" (comparing Wepner's life to "Requiem For A Heavyweight" is a great mirroring of Wepner's connection to "Rocky"), but then is very standard and by-the-book the rest of the way. It really lacked a coherent message other than "we're making a movie about the guy who inspired the Rocky films". As I said in the opener, I still believe this to be a noble undertaking (and one that had real potential), but still an "angle" needed to be found to make it truly great.

    Overall, this is a perfectly acceptable biopic, that I probably have ranked even higher than it should be because I just really enjoy that genre. It doesn't turn any heads and won't sniff "classic" territory, but fans of boxing, "Rocky", or biopics in general will find enough within it to not tune out entirely.
  • Sylvester Stallone has denied that his character of Rocky Balboa was inspired by heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner, who fought professionally from 1964 to 1978. Well, let's just take a look at some of what happens in the "Rocky" movies, shall we? In the original "Rocky" (1976), an unknown white boxer was plucked from obscurity and given a shot at the heavyweight title by a flamboyant black champion. No one gave Chuck, er, I mean, no one gave "Rocky" much of a chance, but he trained hard (old-school) and greatly exceeded expectations during the fight. In "Rocky III" (1982), Rocky gets in the boxing ring for a match against a hulking professional wrestler and, at one point, the wrestler picks Rocky up and drops him to the ground outside the ropes. In "Rocky IV" (1985), Rocky watched James Brown sing from inside the ring before a match. In the career of what real life boxer did all those things happen? Chuck Wepner. Who wrote and starred in all six "Rocky" movies? Sylvester Stallone. It's no wonder that Wepner called himself "the real Rocky". Likewise, it's no wonder that the bio-pic dramedy "Chuck" (R, 1:38) was made to tell Wepner's story. I could say more about the details in common between the careers of Rocky and Chuck, but trying to avoid spoilers (in case you don't know Chuck's story), I'll just refer you to something Chuck says in the movie: "You don't know me. Well, you know me, but you don't know you know me." It's worth mentioning up front that this isn't the story of the making of "Rocky". "Chuck" is about Chuck. The release of "Rocky" changed Chuck's life, but he was the same person before, during and after his proverbial 15 minutes of fame. Chuck worked as a liquor distributor to pay the bills. He was a boxer because it was what he did best. He wasn't the quickest, strongest or most successful heavyweight of his day, but he could take a punch. In fact, he could take a whole lot of punches (a beating, really) and keep coming back for more. They called him the Bayonne Bleeder. He hated the name, but he loved the fame. Chuck enjoyed being recognized and treated special – especially by the ladies. Never mind that he had a devoted wife, Phyliss (Elisabeth Moss), and a loving daughter, Kimberly (Sadie Sink), back home… growing increasingly frustrated by the selfish and neglectful way that Chuck was treating them.

    Chuck's life changed forever in 1975. After Muhammad Ali took the world heavyweight title from George Foreman in the fight known as "the Rumble in the Jungle", Ali said he wanted to fight "a white guy". Since Chuck was the only white guy among the top 10 ranked heavyweight boxers in the world, his manager (Ron Perlman) took care of the details and Chuck Wepner, little known outside of New Jersey, got a shot at the title. For this first time in his career, he trained full time for this fight which took place near Cleveland, OH. Chuck's performance against Ali (Pooch Hall) increased his celebrity greatly. Then he became even more famous the following year when the new movie "Rocky" seemed to mirror his life, especially regarding the Ali fight. As Chuck tried to take advantage of being the guy who inspired the 1976 Best Picture Oscar winner by reaching out to Sylvester Stallone himself, Chuck was also increasing his selfish behaviors, using cocaine and pursuing even more women, including a local bartender named Linda (Naomi Watts), who didn't want anything to do with him… a sentiment now shared by Phyliss.

    "Chuck" is a very entertaining and long-overdue movie. Chuck Wepner's story is indeed the stuff of Hollywood – in the "Rocky" movies – and in this movie which reveals Chuck's story to be as interesting as Rocky's. This film had four writers whose combined efforts really do the story justice. They are Jeff Feuerzeig (known mainly for writing and directing documentaries… including "The Real Rocky" for ESPN), Jerry Stahl (mainly a TV show writer, he also wrote 2003's "Bad Boys II"), Michael Cristofer ("Original Sin", "Bonfire of the Vanities", "The Witches of Eastwick") and Live Schreiber, who, besides being the film's star and co-writer, also helped produce. The screenplay focuses on the drama, but has an effective and organic humor about it. In the hands of director Philippe Falardeau (who directed Reese Witherspoon's 2014 film "The Good Lie"), and in the practically perfect performance of Schreiber, this film portrays the most eventful decade of Chuck's life without judgment, showing his highs and his lows, and never loses sight of his humanity. Another quote from the movie sums it up nicely: "Sometimes life is like a movie. And sometimes it's better." This film is better than most. "A-"
  • A worthy attempt to tell the story of the story that inspired the story that was Rocky. Where Rocky was about hope and triumph, this is a cautionary tale against blind ambition. Kind of the antithesis to Rocky if you like.

    What Rocky was based on was Wepner's supposed 'knock-down' of Ali in March '75. A million to one shot who almost went the distance. Yet if you watch the actual footage of the Wepner/Ali fight you'll see it really wasn't a knock-down as Wepner had stepped on Ali's foot making him lose his balance and fall.

    As a result Wepner still becomes a minor celebrity in his own right yet takes a wrong turn as he neglects his family, indulges in sex and drugs and the party lifestyle all the whilst deluding himself he's some big shot.

    There is fun to be had with this and it really gets fun when Stallone enters the picture, played by Morgan Spector; and Lieb Schreiver puts in a quality stand out performance as does Naomi Watts and the supporting cast. This is a decent movie and is An Enjoyable way to pass the time.
  • adrian-4376715 July 2017
    Chuck Wepner is not my idea of a recommendable character but CHUCK, the film, manages to keep a steady, neutral position, and not make any judgments about his nature. It just shows Wepner as someone easily impressionable and immature, but who, in the ring, is determined to go the distance, come hell or Muhammad Ali.

    Clearly, his marriage to Phyllis was an error and having a daughter even more so because Wepner was completely absorbed in his boxing exploits, his side jobs, his sexual conquests and, ultimately, his identification with the tragic role played by Anthony Quinn in REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT, to the point of knowing his lines off by heart and feeling that he shares something with that unfortunate soul; and his fascination with the film, ROCKY, and its central character and rising movie star Sylvester Stallone, to the point of celebrating that film's Best Picture and Best Director awards as if they were his own, and of almost making Balboa his alter ego, all reflect his scattered personality and weakness of purpose.

    That fascination with a celluloid, larger than life, hero also causes him to jump the boundaries of safe life into the dangers of drug addiction. I find the film brutally honest about that and about his break-up with his wife, played with considerable aplomb and force by Elisabeth Moss, as someone who refuses to be duped by the fake world of boxing, movies, and other illusions entertained by Wepner.

    The scene where Schreiber (Wepner) goes to his daughter's school and completely misses the plot, partly because he is under the influence of drugs, is a classic in its simplicity, truth, and quality of acting by all involved.

    Wepner's honesty about his boxing limitations is a point in his favor, and one that allows the viewer to develop some sympathy for the man.

    I also found the Wepner-Stallone relationship very effectively and succinctly observed. Clearly, in real life Stallone is not the good guy that Balboa was. Stallone did nothing to assist Wepner, with bail for instance, when he was tried and jailed for drug possession. And yet Stallone used Wepner as the source for his script of ROCKY, earning considerable fortune and fame as a result. The scene where Stallone is doing press ups in the jail facility where Wepner is an inmate, all to do with ROCKY III and Balboa's descent from grace and into jail, is also very effectively put across, with not a frame too many.

    Wepner's friend, John Stahl, clearly was not a good influence, and did not mind riding his pal's wave of fame, womanizing, drug taking, and so forth, but never there when really needed, with any really helpful contribution. He comes across as a party parasite with a sense of humor, and reminds you of just how dangerous such friendships can be.

    There are, however, characters who restore hope in mankind: Phyllis is a really good and caring wife, someone whose honesty and real love for Wepner allow her to see that their relationship cannot go on, and has the courage to break it off; Linda, Wepner's second wife, is more detached but has the right values. And Wepner earns our respect for seeing Stallone for what he is.

    Best of all, Wepner's brother, Donny, who steps in to help his undeserving brother. He complains bitterly about Wepner's selfishness, but you wish everyone were as honest and caring, and this would be a far better world.

    Falardeau's direction is assured and extremely competent. No fancy camera work, good use of boxing footage from the time, and he extracts credible and keenly felt performances from the entire cast. Schreiber is very good, Moss superlative, Watts in an unusually self-effacing role that serves her well -- but it is the actor (I do not know his name) who plays the small role of Donny, Wepner's brother, that really stays with me for the sheer honesty and naturalism of his acting.

    Competent script, too, keeping as close to real life as possible. Unfortunately, the source material would never permit the kind of emotional uplift that could have rendered CHUCK a masterpiece in the restricted niche of sports-related movies - but it is definitely worth watching.
  • The first thing Chuck did right was it allowed me to be immersed into this world. The film takes place in the 60's and 70's, and I felt like I was right there! Everything from the costumes to the production design to being made on film, it all worked to create a very vintage look. I felt like I was right with these characters, and I think all the time and care that went into crafting the look of the film needs to be recognized. To take it a step further, the performances are what ultimately sold me. Sure, everything looked gorgeous and vintage, but I was not watching actors; I was watching characters. And that was key in selling me on this world they were displaying. Schrieber is fantastic in this movie! This may be the strongest performance I've seen him give. He, and everyone else too, was almost unrecognizable. This character could easily have been played as one-note, but Schrieber brought so many different layers to him. You understand that he's a really despicable guy, but Schrieber lets you see that he's really a broken man who has lost his way. You're not exactly sure whether Chuck is the protagonist or the antagonist, but it's the subtlety of Schrieber's acting that really lets you buy into this complex character.
  • ferguson-64 May 2017
    Greetings again from the darkness. "That guy could take a punch." It's supposed to be a compliment and knowing nod to the machismo and toughness so valued in the world of boxing. Instead that trait is responsible for the two claims to fame for heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner: he shockingly went 15 rounds (minus 17 seconds) against Muhammad Ali in 1975, and was the inspiration for Sylvester Stallone's Oscar winning movie Rocky.

    Director Philippe Falardeau (Monsieur Lazhar) and the four co-writers (Jeff Feuerzeig, Jerry Stahl, Michael Cristopher, Liev Schreiber) spend very little time in the boxing ring or with the usual training montages, and instead focus on how Wepner's ego and inability to handle fame affected his family, his health and his life. This is a portrait of Chuck the man, and it's at times more painful than the barrage of punches Ali landed in Round 15.

    Liev Schreiber is outstanding as 'The Bayonne Bleeder', the disparaging (but accurate) sobriquet that stuck with Wepner – thanks to his propensity to bleed in most bouts. His self-motivation to "Stay up Chuck" against Ali (played here by Schreiber's "Ray Donovan" brother Pooch Hall) is what became the foundation for Stallone's Rocky screenplay. There are a few terrific scenes with Wepner and Stallone (a spot on Morgan Spector) as Wepner desperately tries to latch onto the Rocky bandwagon, going so far as to introduce himself as "the real Rocky". It's tough for an actor to get Oscar consideration for a performance in the first half of the year, but Schreiber is worthy.

    It's not the first time we have seen the pitfalls of instant fame and celebrity status, and even though it's a true story, there is a familiarity to it that makes the plight of this lovable lug quite easy to relate to. Wepner's blue collar narcissism may have been the cause of much of the pain in his life, but it also allowed him to become a folk hero. His connection with Anthony Quinn in Requiem for a Heavyweight provides all the personality profile we require to grasp Wepner's make-up.

    The supporting cast is strong. Ron Perlman plays Wepner's manager/trainer Al Braverman, Jim Gaffigan is his hero-worshiping corner man and cocaine accomplice, Elisabeth Moss plays wrongly-done first wife Phyllis, Michael Rappaport is estranged brother John, and Naomi Watts (she and Schreiber ended their long-term relationship soon after filming) as his confidant and second wife Linda. Moss and Rappaport each have very strong scenes … scenes that remind us that these are real people and not part of some fairy tale.

    Director Falardeau delivers no shortage of 1970's cheese – wardrobe, facial hair, disco music, party drugs, and night clubs – but there is also enough humor to maintain balance: Wepner explains after the Ali fight how he tried to "wear him down with my face". By the end we aren't sure if Wepner was self-destructive or simply lacking in dependable counsel. Either way, the journey of self-discovery is even more interesting than the boxing career, and the film is punctuated with closing credit footage that provides viewers with a sense of relief. A tragic ending has been averted, and Chuck remains a local Bayonne, New Jersey resident – even if he's no longer a bleeder.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I watched this at home on DVD from y public library.

    I am only a few years younger than Chuck Wepner, I vaguely remember him in his prize fighting exploits in the 1970s. I mostly remember George Foreman and Cassius Clay, who later became Muhammad Ali. But Wepner was right in there for a while, although never in their league.

    This movie is about Chuck Wepner who came up in the working class life of New Jersey. He was a big guy and had a reputation for (1) being able to take punches and (2) bleeding a lot. He was the heavyweight champion of New Jersey and really had no greater ambition. Until Don King called Wepner's manager to set of a fight with Ali.

    Liev Schreiber at 6' 3" is the right size and really good as Chuck Wepner, a real selfish jerk who treated his wife and others badly. But his big claim to fame is Stallone's "Rocky" was inspired by Wepner's exploits in the ring. Wepner got no money for it but was offered a role in one of the "Rocky" movies but, having turned to sniffing cocaine, was unable to handle the small role.

    Wepner did serve time in prison for drug sales, he ostensibly learned a lesson and became a better man. The movie itself is well made but Chuck Wepner is not that interesting a person.

    Of note, Naomi Watts has a role, as Linda, who Wepner apparently ended up with. In real life Schreiber and Watts were once engaged and they in fact have two children together even though they never married and are now apart. Interesting development!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Chuck" (2016 release; 101 min.) brings the story of New Jersey heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner. As the movie opens, we are reminded this is "based on a true story". Wepner is making a name for himself as a heavyweight boxer in the mid-70s. After a quick detour to his youth, we see Wepner and his wife Phyllis watch Ali beat Foreman in the "Rumble in the Jungle". Then the news comes that Ali next wants to fight Wepner, much to his surprise. Why? Because Ali wants to take on a "white guy" and Wepner is the only white guy in the heavyweight top 10 ranking. After Ali fights Wepner in March, 1975, Wepner is a star. Then Wepner gets a phone call that some guy in Hollywood is making a movie inspired by Wepner's story... What happens next? To tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

    Couple of comments: this isn't the first movie about Wepner's life story, in fact ESPN made a documentary about it for its 30 For 30 series. But this is not a documentary. While the movie is directed by Canadian director Philippe Falardeau, best known for his movie "Monsieur Lahzar" some 4-5 years ago, "Chuck" is a true labor of love for Liev Schreiber, who has been pushing this for years. Schreiber brings one of his very best performances of his career (and that is saying something). On top of that he co-produced and co-wrote the movie. If you are expecting a sports movie, you will be sorely disappointed, as this far more a character study (and a flawed character at that). The 1970s are brought to life with a perfectly matching soundtrack and production set (were the city centers really as run down as they are shown here?). The movie sports an all-star cast: besides Schreiber, we see Naomi Watts (unrecognizable as Wepner's love interest Linda--it wasn't until the end credits rolled I realized it was her), Ron Perlman (as Wepner's boxing manager) and Elisabeth Moss as Wepner's wife Phyllis), just to name those. It may be difficult to separate the unlikely Wepner life story from the movie's artistic value, but all I can say is that the movie flew by in no time for me, and that's always a good sign. "Sometimes life is like a movie, and sometimes it's even better", comments Wepner towards the end. Why? just watch...

    "Chuck" premiered to good acclaim at last year's Venice Film Festival, It recently finally opened at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Saturday matinée screening where I saw this at was attended poorly (only 2 people beside myself). Probably the picture-perfect weather had something to so with it. Regardless, hopefully this movie will find a bigger audience on Amazon Instant Video and eventually on DVD/Blu-ray. "Chuck" is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
  • "Chuck" is one interesting and dark biopic tale of fame and the fall that one can take when they don't know how to deal with the success and money that brings along vices. Anyway most movie and sports fans are familiar with the story of how Sly Stallone brought about the story of "Rocky" it was thru the boxing match of little known Chuck Wepner and when he faced "The Greatest" Muhammad Ali and took him the distance in a real life bout. And this picture tells the story pretty well.

    "Chuck" is an up and down story of good times and bad times it's a roller coaster ride of hope, luck, inspiration, and reflection of life. Set in 1970's New Jersey boxer Chuck Wepner(in a good turn from Liev Schreiber)gets the title shot of his life against Muhammad Ali and the "Bayonne Bleeder" goes the distance in a tough loss, and this becomes the inspiration for the real movie "Rocky".

    After becoming a celebrity with fame and money the abuse of cocaine and alcohol becomes so common for Chuck and he drifts away from his wife(Elisabeth Moss) and family so self destruction is so the norm as Chuck's life goes down the drain and even serves a prison stint. Thru it all this guy is a bleeder of life and determination a fighter. As Chuck even starts a new romance with a new lady(played by Naomi Watts).

    The film has a mix of past footage from the actual fight and the picture is told thru Chuck's voice as he recounts his life and times and the 1970's period is captured just fine. Overall good real life story about the rise of fame and it's a showcase of struggle and redemption, proving not always if you win or lose, but it matters if you go the distance.
  • This is a really good film. It's based on the true story that inspired Sylvester Stallone's Rocky movie. It has everything you want, every single actor is perfect in every way. I didn't know who was in it when I started watching and the well known actors revealed along the way sometimes took a minute or two before you knew who they were. Every single frame of this was well done. Highly recommended for folks who like paced movies about extraordinary 'normal' people. Lots of reunioning big and small screen actors came together to make this.
  • Liev Schreiber gives a great performance as Chuck Wepner. He actually makes Chuck look like a wayward but charming kid. 'The Bayonne Bleeder' so called because he easily got cut, managed to land a title shot with Muhammad Ali in 1975 as Ali wanted to fight a top white contender.

    Wepner then found fame of sorts later as Sylvester Stallone supposedly based Rocky on Wepner. A nobody who lands a world title shot.

    After the fight with Ali, Chuck's life spirals downwards with drugs, booze and partying. His wife (Elisabeth Moss) unhappy with his womanising finally has enough and leaves him. Chuck hits rock bottom when he is set up for a drug bust.

    You get the feeling once the Ali fight is done with, the film is over. After that it really is Chuck acting stupid and immature. A story that applies to hundreds of boxers.

    Director Philippe Falardeau gives this film a strong period setting, he also brings out good performances from the actors that includes Ron Perlman and Naomi Watts.
  • As a former boxer, an aficionado of boxing movies wanted to like this movie more than I did. That said, the overall story, the acting, the angle was actually very very very good. The biggest problem I had was the soundtrack trying to ground it as a period piece that too often not only overshadowed the actors but worse, drowned them out. This movie was about the nuance's of Chuck Wepner's life that shaped him. That was a great build in telling a realistic story and not making the character too villainous nor too sympathetic. Basically human. Those drowned out nuances unfortunately for me diluted the potential strength the film could have provided.
  • Equal parts entertaining and interesting, Chuck is more of an intimate character study than a typical boxing film, but it works well.

    The real life inspiration behind Rocky was enough to lure me in. It has a great little cast: Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Ron Perlman, Jim Gaffigan, Elizabeth Moss, Michael Rappaport. I thought Schreiber was great in the title role of Chuck Wepner.

    It's a bit of a tragic story, but has a happy conclusion, with the real-life Chuck featured at the end. Clips from Anthony Quinn's Requiem for a Heavyweight were used quite effectively. You can't help but feel Chuck's story was an important one to be told - the cast certainly do it justice.

    Phenomenal soundtrack and 70s atmosphere throughout. Chuck is an underdog movie of a slightly different kind. Well worth a watch.
  • par40426 March 2018
    Other than the performance by Schrieber the movie was slow and boring. The guy was a sorry character.
  • I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the Chuck/Ali fight was NOT finale of the film. Instead, it delves into the aftermath of the fight with how Chuck dealt with his newfound psuedo-superstardom. The actor who plays Chuck is brilliant and he captures the character's modesty very well. You can't help but feel for Chuck in spite of his never-ending screw ups.

    However, it should be noted that not all the facts are there. I was very intrigued to see how they were going to cover the infamous 'foot-stomp' in this movie. Well...They didn't. They glossed over it completely. The real Wepner was supposedly known for dirty tactics (which this film does not address AT ALL) and the only thing we get is a small scene in which Chuck disputes the claim that he stepped on his foot. Additionally, we get very little build up between Wepner and Ali, something that the 2019 film 'the Brawler' actually improved upon despite its overall inferiority. Regardless, taking this into account, the film is still a pretty great watch with some good fight choreography for a brawler like Chuck. Would definitely recommend if you are a fan of boxing films.
  • Just about everything in this movie is done really well. Great look at the 1970s club scene, and great look at apartments in 1970s style with plenty of actual TV making important contributions. Don't be fooled though. This is not really a boxing movie. It should have been, and that's where my 2 points slipped off to. In fact we only see one fight, with Ali, which was terrific, and another three snippets of fights, two with an actual bear, believe it or not, and a joke fight briefly seen on an old TV screen. More could have been made of that joke fight, and at least two more fights prior to Ali would have really helped. This is the best I've seen of Schrieber with the exception perhaps of Ray Donovan (TV, 2013). He narrates throughout which really helped the pace, is tall, lean and wore great gear, and readily portrays a basically good guy easily lead astray, which is definitely the theme of the movie, similar to Raging Bull (1980), but not as intense as Jake LaMotta was a far more arrogant and violent type, and took way longer to get the message. The Rocky connection is interesting and reflects well on Sylvester Stallone. Old suburban New York comes across really well with a near perfect script and brilliant performances by talented actors. Great movie, I just wish there could have been more boxing.
  • Always good to see Ray Donovan and never more so than in this true story that inspired the Rocky movies.

    Well put together movie with a well time narration throughout, they done a great job with setting this film in the 70's

    Nice easy watch and very well filmed I thought the narration worked perfect with what was happening, solid acting and a good choice of cast,

    I found the story really interesting even though I know the outcome of the Ali fight I was still cheering Chuck on.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I had never heard before that Chuck Wepner was the inspiration for the movie "Rocky", or if I did, had long forgotten it. This film offers an overview of Wepner's career shortly before and after he was tapped to face then champion Muhammad Ali, by virtue of being the only Top Ten contender who was a white boxer. The film offers Wepner, portrayed by Liev Schreiber, as a bloated ego so full of himself that he wears his loss to Ali like a badge of honor, especially after the failed title attempt. There's not a whole lot of boxing on display in the movie itself, though the match against Ali is given fair treatment, with some brief archival clips of the boxers entering the ring of the actual fight, held on March 25th, 1975 at the Richfield Coliseum in Ohio. Trying to capitalize on his "Rocky" connection, Wepner descends into a self imposed hell of alcohol and drugs, hitting bottom when he was set up for a bust. Following his brief incarceration of twenty six months, a few paydays brought him matches against pro wrestler Andre the Giant, and quite ironically, Victor the Bear. That's not a boxer's nickname, it was a real bear. The picture leaves you hanging as to what happened against those non-boxing opponents, so for the record, Andre won the mixed bout by throwing Wepner out of the ring in the third round. As for the bear, Chuck actually 'fought' the bear twice, with both matches considered draws. As far as films go, this one has a made for TV quality going for it with a pretty decent supporting cast. Ron Perlman appears as Wepner's manager and corner man, Jim Gaffigan his friend and drinking buddy, and Naomi Watts an unlikely cast actress as a later in life partner and future wife once Wepner gets his life back on track. If you're a pro wrestling fan, you might catch a very quick glimpse of Fred Blassie in that archival clip mentioned earlier, walking behind Ali on the way to the ring.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The date is March 23, 1975. The place is the old Cleveland Colosseum arena. The big event is a humdrum boxing tuneup for Muhammad Ali after his stunning defeat of George Foreman in Zaire. The patsy, who was expected to be dispatched by Ali in three rounds, is the "Bayonne Bleeder," Chuck Wepner. It turns out that Wepner will be remembered for one moment in the ninth round when he surprising sent Ali to the canvas on the seat of his pants.

    One of the film's themes is that Wepner is the prototype of Rocky Balboa. But was the life depicted in the film a match with the screen icon conceived by Sylvester Stallone? It is not clear that Stallone was inspired by Wepner for the Rocky films. Indeed, the screenplay for "Chuck" makes it clear that that the classic Anthony Quinn film "Requiem for a Heavyweight" has all of the elements of "Rocky." More to the point, the characterization of Wepner in "Chuck" bears little resemblance to the character of Rocky Balboa.

    In one defining moment in the film, Wepner lies to a young woman that he was paid $70,000 by Stallone for the rights to tell his story. When caught in the lie, Wepner tells his best friend that he didn't want to look like a "chump" in the eyes of the young woman. Throughout the film, we see a profile of a chump more than a champ.

    The film was especially successful in the screen writing. The dialogue was lively, especially in the characterization of Wepner's feisty wife Phyllis (Elizabeth Moss). Wepner, as performed effectively with a hangdog look by Liev Schreiber, is portrayed on a downward spiral with his horrendous life decisions that earns him twenty-six months in the Northern State Prison of Newark as a drug dealer.

    The cinematography of "Chuck" was successful in evoking the 1970s through a sepia glaze. The film actually had the look and feel of "Rocky." And Schreiber, who contributed to the screenplay, courageously portrayed a character who was not very likable. Instead of having the eye of the tiger, the Chuck Wepner in this film had the blood-shot eye of the Bayonne Bleeder. In the end, Schreiber leaves us with an unforgettable portrait of a journeyman boxer and a failed pursuit of the American Dream.
  • 85122228 December 2017
    Greetings from Lithuania.

    "Chuck" (2016) is a superbly crafted and acted true story about a boxer who inspired "Rocky". I loved performances in "Chuck" by simply everyone. Everyone did a great job. Directing and writing were also very solid, because at running time 1 h 35 min this movie never dragged.

    Overall, "Chuck" story does look familiar and formulaic, but its a great craftsmanship and acting that kinda makes this movie surely not be missed one.
  • Saw this great little gem last night. Gritty story, well acted.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Sylvester Stallone's Rocky series has been widely acclaimed and become a cornerstone of Hollywood's iconic cultural history. However, the man who inspired this famous series remains much more of a mystery. "Chuck" is a Sports bio-pic that tells the story of Chuck Wepner, the former professional boxer who is most well-known for going toe to toe with heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali in a 1975 title fight. Wepner lost the fight against Ali, but the fighter lasted nearly fifteen rounds in the ring with the world's heavyweight champion. This famous fight was what inspired Sylvester Stallone to create the film "Rocky" in 1976.

    Chuck is a good move for a number of reasons. The plot is fresh and the movie's narration that dictates the story of Chuck Wepner is both clever and humorous. The movie doesn't take itself too seriously. In fact, it goes out of its way to make fun of movies and Hollywood in general. This is the greatest aspect of the film which willfully recognizes that Hollywood is a world of its own. Rocky is a billion dollar franchise that is recognized around the globe. However, Chuck Wepner, the man who Rocky was based off of, received little if any reward from the film series. While the first Rocky ends after the fight between Rocky and Apollo Creed, Chuck's life goes on, even after the Rocky series takes the world by storm.

    The majority of "Chuck" is about the rise and fall of a boxer who once had a chance to take the heavyweight championship of the world. In the spirit of raging bull, "Chuck" depicts the athlete at the heart of the film as a deeply flawed individual who is as unfaithful to his wife as he is to his own values. The end of Chuck's boxing career was also the end of his prospects. After a series of unfortunate choices, Chuck ends up being incarcerated. Upon his release he meets the women of his dreams and ends up marrying her.

    At the final moment of the film, the real-life Chuck can be seen with the women he met after leaving prison at his advanced age. Despite everything the man has witnessed and been through, in 2016 he is still alive and kicking. A fighter till the end. At its core, "Chuck" is a comedy masquerading as a sports film. While there is plenty of comedy, there are some rare moments of sporting thrill. My favorite scene is when Chuck narrates to the audience on-screen during his fight with Ali, "he'd already closed both my eyes, broke my nose, and he was still dancing circles around me. I didn't care. I was just happy to be in the ring with him. I don't remember much after that, except trying to stay on my feet. I could feel him hitting me. No pain, just the thud of his fists. Bone on bone. Boom. Boom".
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a biopic of the life of Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber). Chuck was the top ranked boxer in New Jersey when Don King needed a "white guy" for Ali (Pooch Hall) to fight. Chuck was the only top 10 white fighter at the time. He manged to go the distance in a defeat inspiring Stallone (Morgan Spector) to script "Rocky." The fight, which normally would be the climax of a film comes in at about 30 minutes as we follow the self destruction that ensues.

    The film includes some historical clips. The film is more of a drama than a boxing flick. There is no musical training period for the fight and it only has ring highlights. Acting and accents were good.

    Guide: F-word, sex, and nudity.
  • Chuck is a boxer from jersey who could take a hit. He had a job running liquor and had a beautiful wife and kid, when his manager sets up a match with The Greatest, Ali. He lost the match, but was able to put Ali on his bottom twice and go all 15 rounds losing with 19 seconds left in the match, and when he lost the first person he wanted to see was his wife. That sounds like Rocky alright.

    Unfortunately, Chuck's sequel was not as good as Rocky 2 cause when he went back to some world in Jersey he let it all get to his head and his world came crashing down, which included his attempts to convince the world that the movie Rocky is about him.

    It's one of those stories about how fame can change you. I've seen it done a million times in a million sitcoms that one episode when one character gets his 15 mins acts like a jerk to all those who love him but then they take him back when he falls because they love him.

    But it's not just about the story. Liev Schreiber was very entertaining in this film as Chuck Wepner and Jim Gaffigan was perfect as his best friend, John. I don't know how many movies Schreiber has done with his partner, Naomi Watts. It's bit awkward now that they are not a couple, but she's great in the movie as well.

    But I did not like Schreiber's co-star on Ray Donovan, Pooch Hall as Muhammad Ali. It was a small role, but still, it's Ali, I wish they did better.

    Definitely a cool funny story and a movie worth seeing that I'm surprise Stallone himself did not have any involvement in. It's technically a Rocky film and nobody likes to milk Rocky more than him, right?
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