A fascinating drama inspired by the life of heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner, the riveting underdog story CHUCK arrives on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD August 15, 2017 from Paramount Home Media Distribution. From director Philippe Falardeau, Chuck stars Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Elisabeth Moss, Jim Gaffigan, Michael Rapaport, Pooch Hall, Morgan Spector and Ron Perlman.
He was the pride of Bayonne, N.J., a man who went 15 rounds in the ring with Muhammad Ali. But before all of that, Chuck Wepner was a liquor salesman and father with a modest prizefighting career whose life changed overnight when, in 1975, he was chosen to take on Ali in a highly publicized title match. It’s the beginning of a wild ride through the exhilarating highs and humbling lows of sudden fame, but what happens when your 15 minutes in the spotlight are up?
I’m not a sports guy. I had heard that the original Rocky film was inspired by a real-life boxer who took one helluva beating but wouldn’t go down. I even saw The Simpsons episode where Homer goes into boxing and begins winning matches after his opponents eventually got tired of punching his face, passing out on the mat. All inspired, apparently by this man named Chuck Wepner – the “bleeder” as he was called, because he was notorious for getting bad cuts during his fights. He didn’t like that nickname by the way… Call him Rocky instead – he definitely likes that. As he should!
Chuck is a fantastic bio-pic and Liev Schreiber does a magnificent job portraying the real man that would go on to inspire Sylvester Stallone’s Academy Award winning screenplay for Rocky – arguably the greatest sports film ever made. Hell – you even get Stallone in this movie – he’s played by Morgan Spector (who you can currently see on Spike TV’s ‘The Mist’ series). Spector does a damn fine job playing a very young, very puffy-haired Stallone. I wasn’t expecting that – but it was a nice surprise. The entire supporting cast is terrific – including Ron Perlman, who looks old as shit and gruff as hell. I would’ve loved spending more time with Chuck’s corner man, because he was weathered as hell. Jim Gaffigan even gets in on the debauchery as Chuck’s best friend — the cocaine-fuelled adventures those two embark on are something else.
The film runs the gamut of Chuck Wepner’s life, from his time preparing for the fight against Muhammad Ali (played by his Ray Donovan co-star Pooch Hall), all the way to how he tried to land a part in a Rocky sequel and cash in on the success and newfound fame he got after the film became a huge hit. Director Philippe Falardeau has made an extremely faithful film that honours Wepner’s legacy but also doesn’t shy away from the bad things he did – including a stint in prison. The film is a little slow at times and there are only two boxing sequences in the movie, so don’t go in expecting a ton of action. Chuck is the story behind the real-life Rocky and it really is a fascinating one.
There is but one quick feature included on the disc but it’s a cool one that has Liev Schreiber talking about the role. I especially liked the moment he mentions that he had went to the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight with Chuck Wepner and his wife before the making of the film and while walking to Madison Square Garden, every single police officer stopped them to call Chuck “Champ”, shake his hand, and ask for a picture. Just goes to show you the legend of Chuck Wepner is still very much alive all these years later.