review by Bobby Blakey
There are few film characters as iconic as Stallone’s Rocky Balboa. The beloved character has been entertaining and inspiring fans on the big screen for year, but did you know it was based on a real person? Now the inspiration for the character has gotten his own film with Chuck starring Liev Schrieber, Elisabeth Moss, Ron Perlman, Naomi Watts, Michael Rapaport, Jim Gaffigan, and Pooch Hall. Could this film offer insight into the true inspiration of Rocky or will it fail to get past the first round?
Chuck follows Chuck Wepner, the "Bayonne Bleeder," who was the pride of Bayonne, New Jersey, a man who went fifteen rounds in the ring with Muhammad Ali, and the real life inspiration for Rocky Balboa. But before all 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 The Greatest 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 fifteen minutes in the spotlight are up? Going in the connection to Rocky already made this an interesting story, but I was happy there was so much more here than I had expected. This is one of those rare stories that overlaps both sports and film history in the coolest way possible. I didn’t know near as much as I thought I did about this story until seeing this film and am so happy I did.
Schrieber fully immerses himself in the role of Chuck Webner both physically and with his performance. He is all in with the role making for a character that despite his shortcomings on numerous things is still someone you root for. While it is always strange to see the always great Perlman without his mustache he is excellent in his role here. The rest of the cast do a great job as well with the biggest standout being a smaller role from actor Morgan Spector who plays a perfect young Stallone. Seeing all that went down around the making of Rocky and the films beyond that is both cool and sad as you see how it overall affected Wepner’s life in the bigger picture.
This is a great film that should be seen by anyone, but even more so those hardcore fans of the Rocky legacy. In addition to this film it also includes a featurette looking into the real life Chuck Wepner. Step in the ring and grab your copy of Chuck available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Paramount Home Entertainment.