Tyson Movie Review

When I was a child, Mike Tyson dominated the boxing ring.  He was the best and knocked out everyone early and often.  Nintendo had just arrived on the scene and Mike Tyson’s Punch Out was one of the early games.  I would get nervous just having to fight him on a video game. I can’t imagine what it would be like to face him in the ring.  I doubt he was near as fun to fight as King Hippo.

Mike Tyson in James Toback's Tyson

TYSON is a documentary about Mike Tyson.  It’s pretty cut and dry.   Basically Mike Tyson talks for an hour and a half about himself.  Mike Tyson has lived an interesting life- growing up a hard knock life, prison for robbery, losing the one person that he trusted, becoming champ, being ripped off by the people around him, prison for rape, finding peace, immediately telling peace off in a spew of vulgarities, biting in the ring and finally quitting mid-fight admitting it was for the money.  His brutal honesty is what sells TYSON as a good documentary.

Mike Tyson in James Toback's Tyson

The best parts of this documentary are when we get to see old clips of his fights as he gives a somewhat commentary over each of them.  He explains his thought process and we see old footages of his interviews.  Which I think is a great idea for ESPN.  They could distribute classic boxing matches with commentary by the fighters.  When Tyson wasn’t talking about boxing it wasn’t quite as interesting.  I sometimes got the idea that he may not be completely accurate in his retellings.  It’s not that he is lying but that his view might be a little skewed or hazy but none of it is too different from what you may have guessed about him anyway.  I believe Tyson has the desire to be gentler and it’s clear that he has a more intelligent thought process than what is usually portrayed.  It also appears that Tyson has matured with age but you also get the feeling by his views and vulgarity that he could easily snap at any moment, never quite knowing what could set him off.

Mike Tyson in James Toback's Tyson

As far as the production goes, it could have been just as affective as an audio.  We see Tyson sitting and talking.  Every now and then the director would do a few different cuts with Tyson speaking, using close ups on the eyes or mouth as a creative change up.  Sometime he would split the screen three different ways all with Tyson talking.  Sometimes the audio would get a three-way treatment as well, repeating key words or phrases.  I don’t know how this is creative.  What was really laughable were the walks on the beach where Mike would skip a rock or just look into the vast Sea.  This was visually ridiculous.  Not to say it’s necessary to do a lot of effects, but the techniques that were used were a little on the cheese side.

Mike Tyson in James Toback's Tyson

I will say for what TYSON is, simply a man telling his story, it’s good.  I feel the need to criticize because I don’t believe much work went into this other than getting footage from ESPN Classics.  If you are not familiar with Tyson you won’t care at all.  If you want to hear Tyson tell his story, this is insightful and I would recommend this documentary.


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