Sundance Review: Tyson

I don’t think I’ve been awake at 8:30 in the morning more than 7 days over the course of the last year. So getting up to see a documentary with an 8:30am start time isn’t easy. Thankfully it was at the racquet club, which is only a 2 minute walk from our blogger condo. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the uncensored expose that I naively believed it might be. I realized this fact during the opening credit sequence when the name Mike Tyson came on screen, preceded by the words “Executive Producer”.

The film is a look at the life of one of the most famous fighters in Boxing History, as told through an interview with Tyson himself. And there lies the film’s main problem. Situations dealing with abuse and rape charges deserve to show the other side of the story (especially when Tyson claims they never happened). But the documentary never strays from the one on one interview with Tyson himself.

I was also surprised at the lack of additional footage from Tyson’s many years in the public spotlight. Most of the film is comprised of a talking head interview with Tyson, and some overused footage of Mike looking out into an ocean sunset. The editor also chose to sometimes split the interview footage into a shattered split screen, probably in an attempt to spice things up. As you might expect, the result is more annoying than anything else.

To his credit, Mike comes off as incredibly honest and forthcoming. And we get stories about how the boxer contracted gonorrhea from a prostitute before a championship fight and how he likes to woo strong women, CEO types, and dominate them in the bed room. We also get commentary on some of his fights, giving us a look into the skill and psychology.

And Tyson comes off like a sensitive tough guy who has seen the errors of his ways, but each and every time he falls into the same traps. And the finale comes off almost like a scripted infomercial which shouts “Look, I’m better now, I’m not a bad guys! See!” The film gives a fascinating look at a man with a serve confidence and trust issues from the point of view from that same man who now thinks he’s cured. It’s not a bad cable documentary but as a theatrical release, I can’t recommend it.

/Film Rating: 6 out 10

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About the Author

Peter Sciretta is a film geek and popcultured fanboy living in Los Angeles. He created /Film in 2005.

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