Tyson: Movie Review
Cast: Mike Tyson
Director: James Toback
After the whole Cameron/ Tua showdown it's fair to say boxing is back in the
So it's with interest that I approached Tyson, a supposed "intimate no-holds
barred portrait" of the man himself.
Using archive footage of fights, post-match interviews and a series of direct
one-on-one encounters with Mr Tyson himself, the doco takes a look back at the
man's life and seeks to go behind the myth.
It begins with his life growing up in Brooklyn and how he was always in the
middle of some kind of trouble, before segueing into how he moved into boxing -
and the giddying highs and dizzying lows his success brought with him.
Normally a one man interview over 90 minutes could stretch the attention span
of most viewers - and particularly with Mike Tyson, there could have been some
But what Toback's done (albeit with a strange style) is to simply turn on the
camera and let Mike talk Mike - while Tyson's not the most eloquent of speakers
(at times, he appears to struggle to find the words to express himself), it's
the way the film's been constructed which gives the portrait a more rounded
However, it may take you a little while to get into the style - Toback's
occasionally gone for a kind of 24/ Brady Bunch visual where Tyson's split over
three levels as he extols nuggets of wisdom about preparing for fights and the
fall out from them. It's an odd way to approach it - and while it initially
takes a lot to adjust, you barely notice it as the film goes on.
That said, when it comes to Tyson revealing his most intimate thoughts, it's
perhaps telling that he doesn't do it directly to camera - those scenes see a
voiceover employed as he's seen walking along a beach; it's here I felt a little
cheated from seeing Tyson himself - and it's an odd way of doing it.
There's humility and humour on show - as well as vitriol when describing
Robin Givens and Don King - like his fighting in the ring, it's an unstoppable
tirade which pours forth when he talks of those who've wronged him.
The fights footage is gripping stuff - and there's one moment where Mike
describes how he psyched himself up for fights which truly opens a window into
any challenger's mindset.
It'll be no surprise to many how Mike Tyson ended up as Mike Tyson - but one
impression I couldn't shake is how frightened he's been through his life and how
that fear shaped his reactions and outbursts. Granted, it's no major revelation
that one of the most vicious fighters in the world lived in fear of losing his
title, but what was more personal was how that fear conquered him when he hit
It's fair to say Tyson is an interesting film - given the subject matter. I
can't in all honesty say that I ended up warming to Iron Mike but I did have
more of an insight into his character, his reasoning for the infamous ear biting
incident when he took on Evander Holyfield and his attitudes post life in the
As the man himself says at the end: "What Mike Tyson did, is history. What
Mike Tyson does next, is a mystery."