"While I’m in the dressing room, five minutes before I come out, my gloves are laced up, I’m breaking my gloves down, I’m pushing the leather to the back of my gloves, I’m breaking the middle of the gloves so my knuckle could pierce through the leather. I could feel my knuckle piercing through the tight leather gloves on the Everlast boxing gloves. When I come out I have supreme confidence but I’m scared to death. I’m totally afraid. I’m afraid of everything. I’m afraid of losing. I’m afraid of being humiliated. But I’m totally confident. The closer I get to the ring the more confident I get; the closer, the more confident I get. The closer the more confident I get. All during my training I’ve been afraid of this man. I thought this man might be capable of beating me. I’ve dreamed of him beating me. But that I’ve always stayed afraid of him. The closer I get to the ring I’m more confident. Once I’m in the ring I’m a god. No one could beat me. I walk around the ring but I never take my eyes off my opponent – I keep my eyes on, even if he’s ready and pumping. He can’t wait to get his hands on me as well. I keep my eyes on him. I keep my eyes on him. Then once I see a chink in his armor, boom, one of his eyes may move, and then I know I have him. Then when he comes to the center of the ring, he still looks at me with his piercing look as if he’s not afraid. But he already made that mistake when he looked down for that one tenth of a second. I know I had him. He’ll fight hard for the first two or three rounds, but I know I already broke his spirit. During the fight I’m supremely confident. I’m moving my head; he’s throwing punches. I’m making him miss and I’m countering. I’m hitting him to the body; I’m punching him real hard. And I’m punching, and I’m punching him, and I know he’s not able to take my punches. One, two, three punches; I’m throwing punches in bunches. He goes down, he’s out. I’m victorious. Mike Tyson, greatest fighter that ever lived."
- Mike Tyson
At a glance:
Mike Tyson paints a mesmerizing portrait of his tumultuous life and troubled soul in his truth-laced, psychologically fascinating soliloquy
Our review (with spoilers):
Tyson is the story of heavyweight boxer and former world champion Mike Tyson, tracing his tumultuous life from his start as a troubled child, his teenage years as a hood, his ascent to the world title, and his descent back to earth. At the heart of all was his intensely close relationship with his trainer/mentor/father figure, Cus D’Amato. D’Amato pulled Tyson from a life of crime that would have surely ended in an early death or a long jail sentence, and honed his raw boxing talent into the skills of a world champion. Tyson, for his part, gave D’Amato a reason to live – to watch this man that he had molded improve and excel. D’Amato saw Tyson start to climb the steps toward the world championship but died before Tyson reached his goal. D’Amato also missed Tyson’s rapid descent. With his mentor/conscience gone, and lured into believing his own hype, Tyson stopped training and gave in to the temptations of non-stop groupie women. He lost the title to Buster Douglas, a fighter he probably could have beaten easily had he trained properly. As his professional life nose-dived, so did his personal life. His marriage to Robin Givens ended in humiliation. And later, he was convicted of the rape of an aspiring Miss America contestant, and spent three years in prison. When he emerged, his heart, mind and body were no longer dedicated to boxing; he fought again, with varying success, and admitted that often it was only for the paycheck.
What makes this story so compelling is that it is told by Tyson himself, with no holds barred (except for those parts where it is obvious that Tyson doesn’t really understand what happened to him, or perhaps has no intention of admitting the facts). Most of the film consists of close-ups of Tyson’s face as he recounts the highs and lows of his life. There is an interviewer, but they are never on-screen, and their questions are never heard; only Tyson’s answers are there to guide us. Interspersed with this are some awesome clips from his bouts that led to his heavyweight title; he was a terrifying superior fighter, expertly trained, singular of purpose, and with amazing hand speed and power.
Even Tyson himself seems only vaguely aware of just how out of control he can get when he is high, hurt, or enraged by current events or his harsh upbringing. He is quite raw, unrestrained, and animalistic, and, amazingly, he shares much of this when he tells his story. For example, recounting the details of when he attacked Don King, he first insults King, calling him a number of names and saying the man only loves money. It is as if he is reliving the anger that led him to attack King. He then says that he loved Don King. Both versions appear to be true, or at least he believes both to be true.
Rating: 3.5 of 4
Other reviewers said:
"...if Tyson never manages to charm us, there are other times when he comes off as touchingly naive. He's uncommonly empathetic to those who might think him a monster. It seems he often sometimes thinks of himself the same way."
- Philip Martin (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
"It all adds up to a fascinating psychological study, a film that goes beyond both the public persona and the fighter's own spin to get at the frightened, angry, explosive, yet utterly understandable boy who became a very troubled and very public man."
- Roger Moore (Orlando Sentinel)