Tyson Review: The Man Behind The Fists

October 13, 2008 by  
Filed under Film Reviews

Tyson MovieTyson is screening as part of the London Film Festival

Fri 17th October, 6:30pm, London Odeon West End

Tuesday 21st October, 3:30pm, London Odeon West End

On watching this documentary, a collaboration between Mike Tyson and filmmaker James Toback, Tyson said “It’s like a Greek tragedy. The only problem is that i’m the subject.”

The story of Tyson’s life is filled with darkness and hubris, rising as he did from abject poverty and brutality to become the youngest ever Heavyweight champion of the world, through a path of sex, money and prison. Yet this surprisngly gentle portrait is so intimate and musing it is almost hard to believe it is about the same man who once bit Evander Holyfield’s ear off.

This is not a traditional biopic documentary- it is an exhiliriatingly honest, rhythmic poem to a man whose ferocity, fury and boxing skill have become legendary. The sole voice in the film is Tyson’s, yet it is never monotonous because of the self awareness that threads Tyson’s words. He is often questioning himself as much as he is telling his story. Archival footage gives Tyson’s eloquent words a vivid immediacy.

For Toback, the film is about fear and madness. This is a theme of Tyson’s life and he talks vividly about being bullied and humilated as a child. At one powerful  moment in the film, Tyson talks about his realisation that because he learned to fight no one was ever “..going to fuck with me again.” As he says it he struggles, almost choking, for breath as he tries not to cry. After waiting, panting, totally vulnerable, he finishes: “Because I would f*ckin’ kill them.” It is a moment of terrible truth.

A truly revealing, sometimes haunting documentary that goes far beyond the surface of this famously violent man, this is captivating from start to finish.

By McGee Noble

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