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I think the person above has watched/reviewed the wrong film.
I've just got back from seeing this and it's purely a documentary featuring an interview with Tyson himself - no-one else, no actors.
I say 'interview' but you don't actually hear any questions asked - this is just Mike talking about his life/career almost as a monologue.
I thought it was a fantastic effort at just letting the user take from the picture what they want - there is no attempt to create a bias for or against Tyson in any way.
I never liked Tyson as a fighter/person but I realise having watched this that the person we saw tear up the heavyweight division in the 90s was a long way from the man himself. He now comes across as a humble man - though with few regrets.
The interspersing of his fights with his dialogue is superbly done - credit to the the direction of James Toback.
What a great documentary. For anyone who likes boxing, this is a
must-see. You hear Mike talking, almost non-stop, throughout giving
numerous details about his personal life. The techniques used to
present the film were terrific, though it does require you to pay
attention; at several points, Toback runs multiple moving split-screens
- it's an interesting device as you are forced to "follow" the dialog
as one screen box goes quiet as another picks up where it left off.
The fight footage is incredible. I felt like I was watching all this footage again for the first time.
Throughout, the viewer is given access to a side of Tyson I doubt any but his closest friends and associates have ever witnessed. At many points he chokes up, fighting back tears - it's an amazing thing to watch.
And there's a lot of laughs. I won't reveal them, but there is some really funny stuff.
I was fortunate (?) to have been in the Catskill (later Cus D'Amato) Boxing club with Mike in the early to mid 80's and as such got to see him just as he was starting to get the acclaim that would later get ridiculous. I remember that he was still like a little kid in a lot of ways---pushing his friend's motorcycle on Main Street in Catskill for him to pop start it, walking around with a NY paper's cartoon showing a drawing of him holding the world in his hands, and exclaiming to anyone who would listen "This is so fly!" And much more. He was happy, healthy, and on a course for greatness. Then Cus died, and after an incredible series of fights that left him with all the belts, Mike threw it all away. He doesn't shy away from telling the world how foolish he was, and it is heartbreaking to see him on the verge of tears as he seems to relive it in his memory. Director Toback does a brilliant job in letting his subject do all the talking, and it is riveting. One star off for not making it clearer why he let Don King take over and basically destroy his career. While he does acknowledge the piece of crap that King is, he needed to go a little further, since King was sort of the anti-Cus, if you will. I know Mike knew that he was always welcome to come back to Catskill, where Cus's knowledge is still being imparted even today.
An excellent narrative on Mike Tyson's life from his point of view. The
narrative is all done by Mike himself. Watching this movie you feel
like you're sitting in front of Mike Tyson asking him to tell you his
The movie itself I believe is not scripted since it's Mike Tyson himself telling us and the way he spoke seems genuine and full of holes in logic. In short it seemed honest enough.
Seeing this documentary, you gain a good amount of perspective about Tyson's personality, his life, how he think, his problems, and the people around him. The best part for me was when he explained why he bite Holyfield's ears.
Definitely one to watch for his fans. If you're not a Tyson or boxing fan, you might get a little bored.
"Tyson" has it all. A confessional film that showcases just how crazy,
funny, spiritual, fun, pained, and fascinating the troubled boxer is as
a man. He grew up in Brooklyn, the product of a rough neighborhood and
constant bullying. He tried to escape the humiliation he felt by
stealing, which landed him in jail where he picked up boxing as a
hobby. When he got out he found his first real father figure in
Constantine "Cus" D'Amato, an old trainer who taught him the spiritual
side of boxing and the confidence that went along with it. He studied
tape of guys like Rocky Marciano, Jack Dempsey, and Muhammad Ali, and
during the 80's became a force to be reckoned with. Then "Cus" died and
Mike lost his way, becoming very taken with his own indestructible
image and like all great tragic stories, that always guarantees a fall.
First his disastrous marriage to Robin Givens made him known as a
cheater and a beater, and then he got cocky and lazy and lost a big
fight to Buster Douglass. Then as the cherry on top, he was accused of
rape and sentenced to 3 years in jail. His career would continue to go
down hill from there.
This is Tyson's side of the story, so don't expect fair and balanced, but also don't expect him to pull any punches. He takes on some tough questions here and succeeds mightily in turning the tide in his favor. With that voice and that facial tattoo your instantly hooked, but what keeps you rooted to the screen is an insightful character study as well as a sad tale of how a guy with a "me against the world" mentality managed to take himself places he never dreamed of going, but also let his pit-bull-like emotions and out of control pride get the better of his reasoning. Director James Toback does a great job adding pictures and video clips for some flavor but this is Tyson's movie and his commentary just offers highlight after highlight after highlight.
His recollection of "Cus" D'Amato is surprisingly moving. His description of his mindset as a boxer is something next to God-like arrogance, and his views on women and sex expose more of that same type of domination. The commentary on the Holyfield fight, as well as the ear biting re-match, is fascinating to listen to. His description of prison is a haunting nightmare. He describes the people around him as leaches, especially Don King who he says would "Kill his own mother for a dollar." There are too many great moments in this movie to name but expect to be consistently riveted by the controversy, adversity, vulnerability, anger, and yes even his exaggerated sense of humor too. The "I want to eat his children" comment right before the Lennox Lewis fight is just one of many priceless things this man says.
Tyson's life has taken a sad turn. The fight has gone out of him. His last fight in 2005 was held strictly so he could get some money to pay the bills. Just you feel like your watching the real Tyson now. He is much more sobered and at peace, a man whose demeanor reflects someone whose been thru hell and been humbled by it. He admits his mistakes, makes you question some of his others, but above all just makes you feel for him anyway. "Tyson" succeeds in showcasing the boxer as someone much more vulnerable than the guy you see in the ring or shouting out "faggot" during a weigh-in. There is more dimension here than I expected and that makes this one of the years biggest surprises thus far.
Who knew that Mike Tyson had this inside of him? The best parts of
TYSON are when Mike confesses his origins. I won't spoil it, but
watching this documentary makes you understand why he is the way he is.
The cinematography is great too, as it seems that it was probably shot
within a few days but the editing is smooth and interesting. There is a
great amount of footage as well, and not just boxing matches. You see
Tyson from age 14 to present, training, living, in court, with his
The best word to use when describing TYSON is "empathy". Before this movie, I admit, I thought Tyson was a nut. I thought he was just another lunatic professional athlete that was out of control. Not much changed... he WAS a lunatic, he WAS out of control... but you know 100% why after viewing TYSON. And you can't really blame him.
8/10. Highly recommended!
Mike Tyson, probably the greatest heavy weight to ever walk the earth
during a short span of 2 to 3 years. Why do you think all the other
great heavyweights waited until he was well aged before they fought
him. No other fighter ever exuded such skilled ferocity, not even
Around the same time as Tyson's rape trial was William Kennedy's rape trial. I remember saying to a friend of mine after both trials were over that I bet William Kennedy was guilty and Tyson was not. I assume Tyson had his way with her and then discarded her and when she realized what his intentions were, she did it to save face and get back at him.
Now look, Tyson himself, says he took advantage of many woman but not her and you know, I actually believe him. Just a gut feeling I guess. Maybe I am wrong but its how I see it. Tyson was no saint by a long way and he admittedly confessed to committing many many felonies.
I actually find myself defending him for some reason.
Now that I said my points. This was an extremely intriguing documentary. From the heart and apparently truthful account of Mike Tyson. I never realized how well read Mike is. He has an excellent grasp of the English language and I only noted one or two bad English comments "That weren't intended".
He is very charismatic and intelligent. He gives very astute and detailed re-tellings of his life.
I was very much interested throughout.
To make a great documentary you must find a fascinating subject and
follow it wherever it takes you. Tyson is such a documentary not just
because Mike Tyson is a complex man, but because the filmmaker James
Toback is his friend and becomes his collaborator. Toback provides
plenty of historical footage of the fighter's turbulent career, but
none of that would mean much if Tyson hadn't opened up to Toback's
camera the way he did, looking squarely into the lens and telling his
story as he remembers and feels it (and the visuals of Tyson talking
are elegantly filmed). This is as close as you could get to seeing the
world from Mike Tyson's point of view. But because he himself must
admit that many of his actions are indefensible, you get a balanced
picture. On both sides, Toback's and Tyson's, this is an exercise in
Mike Tyson has the monumental sculptured features of some giant Pacific atoll tiki figure and he also looks like a thug. A Maori warrior facial half-tattoo enhances this complexity. He came from the worst kind of background, with hardly any parenting, growing up in a very bad part of Brooklyn in the early Seventies when New York was in terrible shape, a robber and a drug dealer. He was sent to a reformatory at the age of twelve. He had no kind of formal schooling, but when he talks, his vocabulary is ornamented with relatively sophisticated words, even if the syntax is a bit rough. This is a man who went very wrong, but not a stupid man.
It's a mystery to me what made Tyson such an incredible fighter when he was young. Perhaps the sheer ferocity of a terrified animal. Partly his monologue is a confession and one of his first revelations is that he has always been very afraid. But for boxing ignoramus like myself, scrutinize as I may the many early fights in which Tyson stages a knockdown right away and wins the fight, I can't see how he does it. He's big, strong, fast, confident, in great shape. But he's not the only boxer to have those qualities. What is his secret? That, the film leaves us to figure out for ourselves, if we can.
You don't have to be sympathetic to Mike Tyson to see that this is a tragic story. Tyson's mentor Cus D'Amato died and his world lost its center even before he had quite won the heavyweight title, though he was well on his way, and, at nineteen, the youngest ever to do so.
He married TV actress Robin Givens, who at first helped him with finances and housekeeping, but violent fights and public humiliation led to divorce, with Givens at first seen as the wrongdoer. At this point big-time black manager Don King entered Mike's life (his managers and trainers had all been white), and at first again King was helpful, but then began to manipulate and cheat, and soon he was in worse hands with King than he was with Givens.
Tyson did relatively very well financially, made millions and kept a lot of them, for a while anyway. He's a lot less rich now but he's not broke either; he says he never cared much about the money. He had a spectacular fight against Leon Spinks, a highly touted fighter, scoring a wining KO in the first 90 seconds. Then he lost the title to underdog James "Buster" Douglas. All this in four years, from youngest champion and role model rivaling Muhammad Ali to a battered and exploited loser. But not right away. He still had wins. But he was going downhill outside the ring.
Then he went to jail for rape. The story is cloudy but there's a lot of bad living around it. In the public mind, Tyson's rape conviction ruined his reputation and made him a target of late-night comedy. To the camera, he talks about some of the really ugly stuff that went on in jail, and his own time in solitary. Out after three years of a six-year sentence and evidently a Muslim convert, Tyson returned successfully to boxing.
However the film shows how eventually the motivation and focus and the will to train to superior fighting condition disappeared, and the glorious speed and rapid decisions of Tyson's first few years as a major boxer were never there. Since confidence was one of the keys to the success (fear or not), when the confidence, or the interest in the sport, really, is gone, the good fighting goes with it and the result is sad to see. A big surprise was Tysoh's defeat by Evander Holyfield. Disgrace followed the next bout with Holyfield when, however wronged by being repeatedly head-butted, Tyson successively bit both of Evander Holyfield's ears and incurred a $3 million fine and one-year suspension from boxing.
And of course this contributed even further to the utterly tarnished reputation and was further fodder for jokes. Tyson couldn't be spoken of in the same breath with Ali. And the film has more lurid material and scandalous behavior, brawls, a battle with Don King, cannibalistic threats to an opponent. Finally the film shows Tyson interviewed in the ring after a later fight saying he no longer wants to box; it's over.
As he speaks in the film, Mike Tyson is only forty. If he was in a room, you'd want to talk to him. In a brutish kind of way, he's highly articulate. He was a terrible husband, but he has a woman who has been a wonderful mother to his children, and he dreams of being a grandfather. Has he a chance to redeem himself? One can't say. But the power of Toback's film is that Tyson's vulnerability and openness balance the brutal story of triumph spoiled by hubris. This is a film that is both vivid and subtle. It achieves maximum sympathy but also maximum honesty.
I wouldn't want to be Mike Tyson, not in a million years or for a
million dollars, at any stage of his life. He grew up on the mean, poor
streets of Brooklyn, stole and robbed in his young teen years, got sent
to Juvenile Hall and then was trained by Cus D'Amato, famous and
talented boxing trainer, and then became a boxing machine in the ring
only to see his self-confidence and inner demons take over him as he
saw everything crumble around him. At least, that's what James Toback's
film on Tyson would want us to believe, or have us hear him out on
What's clever, and most absorbing, about Tyson is that it doesn't ask us to see all of the truth in the facts in this man's life, but that there may be some truth in this man's own self-analysis. We get no other voice in the film to contradict or say otherwise what Tyson himself says in looking back (we see old videos of what other people have said about him, be it boxing announcers to the infamous interview Robin Givens gave to Barbara Walters with Tyson sitting next to her). He's not exactly a very "good" man even by his own estimation, but if there's one thing that he'd want to get out in the open, by his own admission, he's trying, Lord how he's trying.
The interviews, done as Mike Tyson was getting himself cleaned up of drugs and alcohol, are shot in the face-to-camera approach of Errol Morris, but there's another influence I wonder if Toback was tooling with which is Robert Altman. This may be the only documentary I can think of where the one and only interviewee's dialog and words overlap each other in most cases. This is very effective, such as when Tyson is talking about his time in prison for rape and we hear and see his various memories of the experience overlapping one another. This, plus a strongly edited split-screen effect, creates a kind of prism-vision of Mike Tyson in this very focused portrayal of the man, myth, legend himself.
It's self-confession and a history lesson. For someone who hasn't followed all of Tyson's career and personal life the former is put into good light. I learned almost all I needed to know about Tyson as a boxer from this film. As a human being that may be another matter. He is honest about himself, as if in a therapy session, but to what degree (even to his friend of 20 years, the director) is hard to say. But this only adds to the interest; how much his trainer's death in the mid 80s really had on him as a boxer is really hard to say, since he contradicts himself as saying he was never the same after his death, losing his already fragile self-confidence, while also becoming one of the dominant presences in boxing in the 20th century in the late 80s and early 90s.
What one gets from this film is something rare in documentary, which is no-BS bias. We get no other point of view but this subjective portrait, which is sometimes harsh on himself and sometimes, arguably, not harsh enough. For those who only know of the crazy-ass Tyson (i.e. "I'm gonna f*** you till you love me" quotes) one can see him open up on his own past of being so afraid and with such a lack of self-esteem that this profession he chose was the only logical way to go aside from death or in prison for longer than that of his rape conviction (which, true to subjective portrait, he still denies to this day).
It's not perfect as a documentary, and there are a couple of points I groaned inside from Toback's artistic choice, most notably the shots of Tyson walking on a beach at sunset with some poetry narration (that's right, Tyson breaking out the stanzas) that feel so against the hardcore personal nature of the rest of the picture. It's like we're all collective psychiatric interpreters of this incredibly flawed once-truly-great fighter, and at the least there's nothing else like it in boxing film history or just in theaters now in general. 9.5/10
Man where do I start... One must watch this picture in order to really gain all the positives from this. This is the real deal ladies and gents. Mike Tyson the man. I repeat, he is the man. The greatest fighter ever lived but man Tyson on the other hand, the guy you would want in your side. I have never been a real Tyson fan, but after seen this I have a new found love for this guy. He looks like a monster yet he is a teddy inside. Sure he is an animal, sure he is not the nicest person in the world. At least he is man enough to admit his mistakes and live on. I can see how a rough neighborhood do to both you and your character as far as one might be concerned of a great Utopian system. Tell you the truth, it is a pleasure watching couple his fights and man this can fight. I was a bit skeptical prior to seeing this picture, but I very much enjoyed it as it has something for everyone to enjoy. The documentary is intelligently put to works where the subject is the mere focus rather than the interviewer or the writer hugging up all the screen time asking irrelevant questions. Only mike speaks and the statements come from his heart. Do yourself a favor and watch this documentary as it is very well put together and you could appreciate a great fighter and also a talented film maker.
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