September 3, 2009

Movie Review: "Tyson"


I have been waiting (semi-patiently) for the release of this highly acclaimed documentary on one of the most controversial, fucked up, boxers (read: people) of all time! Finally last night I had a free moment to rent and view this 90 minute movie and I walk away disappointed overall.

The name Mike Tyson is known worldwide whether you are a boxing fan, or you just pay attention to our celebrity infatuated "news" programs. Tyson's prowess and power in the ring cannot be overlooked, yet his antics and behavior both in and out of the ring are most likely the legacy "Iron" Mike will leave behind. A severely troubled, angry, afraid and fragile man Tyson is the only voice we hear on this feature. Tyson in his own words.

Tyson in his own words is also one of the more frustrating aspects of this documentary. His grasp of the English language is minimal and his attempts at compensating for his lack of knowledge leaves the viewer straining to understand what he is saying. The Youtube like editing is possibly the result of Tyson's muttering as well, with scenes overlapping each other and someone abusing of the editing table on the computer!

Once we get past these technical difficulties the film lays down an intimate portrayal of a man launched into stardom (he was THE heavyweight champion before he was old enough to drink in a bar!) to early in life only to fall against the ropes when the fame, money, and fast life hit him with a 1-2-3. Tyson is surprisingly candid in sharing his feelings about the various abuse he has dished out to both his opponents in the ring, as well as the women outside of the ring. Yet I cannot say I was convinced. He shares many of his feelings and thoughts, yet seems vaguely indifferent. I find myself wanting to believe his words, but on the same token I cannot discern if this is just another self admitted pay day like his last "fight" with Kevin McBride!

Interlaced with footage of training and fighting (which I could watch endlessly) the best part of the documentary is the 1/2 hour-45 minutes spent talking about Tyson's development under Cus D'Amato. Fighting back tears Tyson spoke with such admiration and love for the man who literally saved Tyson's life. Without Cus Tyson would have been nothing but a street thug most likely to find his end in prison or face down in a ditch. Cus took Mike in like a son (Tyson never had a father to speak of) and trained him to be one of the most dominant heavyweights the world has seen. When Cus died Tyson was broken, admitting he could not trust anybody, and started a downward spiral. Ending up in the hands of Don King, Tyson would never be the same.

Overall the documentary is a fascinating look behind the eyes of an amazingly complex, fucked up, interesting individual. The viewer is left wondering "what could have been" if Iron Mike had chose a different path. If you can bear with the lack of articulation and MTV like editing the footage is worth the rental fee alone! Most do not understand just HOW fast Mike was in his late teens - early 20's! Amazing!

Not quite worth the praise it has received, "Tyson" is still worth a rent to anyone interested in a modern American martial artist, or if you just enjoy seeing the man behind a train wreck.

Enjoy,
JAB

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