Thursday, 22 October 2009

Tyson: Movie Review

Tyson: Movie Review

Rating: 6/10
Cast: Mike Tyson
Director: James Toback
After the whole Cameron/ Tua showdown it's fair to say boxing is back in the media spotlight.
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 challenges.
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 feel.
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 rock bottom.
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 ring.

As the man himself says at the end: "What Mike Tyson did, is history. What Mike Tyson does next, is a mystery."

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