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Iron Mike - for real.
PureedMonkeyBrains16 January 2009
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.
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Deep rapport
Chris Knipp25 May 2009
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 trust.

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.
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Wrong film?
Winkywoo18 October 2008
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.
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One of the best documentaries in recent years!
jimbob1240410 April 2009
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.
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Riveting movie about a complicated man
C-Younkin22 April 2009
"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.
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A View on Mike Tyson's Life From Tyson's Eyes
PopcornLovesMovie20 April 2009
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 life story.

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.
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Who knew?
badmoonrison17 May 2009
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 family, etc.

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!
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no-holds-barred therapy session as much as biased documentary
Quinoa198422 May 2009
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 anyway.

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
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Documentories don't get any better than this
insomnia15 August 2009
Truth, they say, is stranger than fiction. No more so than when it comes to documentaries. Even the average documentary can be far more gripping than many a feature film. And a great documentary is a wonder to behold. Such is the case with the film "Tyson", by James Toback. Of the ten films James Toback has directed over a period of thirty-one years, only "Fingers", and "The Pick-Up Artist" have made it to DVD, at least here in Australia. The first I knew of "Tyson" was a review I had read in The New Yorker. So when I saw it was one of the films to be screened at this year's Melbourne Film Festival, I made damn sure I got a ticket. Mike Tyson, in his career as a boxer, became the youngest heavy weight champion in the world. He floored one opponent in just eight seconds! Of the fifty -eight fights he fought, he won fifty. He knocked out his opponent forty -four times, and lost just six fights, before retiring from the fight game. "Tyson" is not an objective film as such. It is 100% subjective with Tyson doing all the talking. The death of his trainer, Constantine 'Cus' D'Amato hit Tyson hard, though there is no way of telling, his public and private life seemed to go off the rails not long after, the bulk of this film is devoted to having Tyson look at the camera and tell his story the best way he can. Yes, he probably leaves out a lot (who knows how much extra footage didn't make it into the final film), but what remains is like a cinematic jolt of electricity. He doesn't pull any punches. He tells it like it is, warts and all. He comments on the 'leaches' like Don King. Then again, knowing how explosive a temper he has, he says nothing while his wife, Robin Givens, lashes out at him in front of Barbera Walters on television. He tells about growing up in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, where he was bullied by neighbourhood kids, his life of petty crime, time in jail and when his luck changed on meeting Constantine 'Cus' D'Amato, who taught him all he knew about the craft of boxing, both physical and spiritual. You have to pay close attention as many of his fights are shown on a split screen, so when one image fades, another immediately takes its place. Whether you like to see two men pummel each other into submission, or wouldn't watch a boxing match to save your life, "Tyson" is a film that you really should see.
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A great Doc. from a great fighter.
jkd15-115 April 2009
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 Foreman.

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.
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The Most Candid Interview You Will Every See
chicagopoetry8 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
At first I was skeptical about the documentary Tyson, because I saw Tyson's name in the credits as, I believe, one of the Executive Directors. So how honest can a documentary about one's self be? But I was surprised if not shocked by the candidness of this film. Tyson shares all, from venereal diseases to drug abuse to his complete apathy toward boxing toward the end of his career. The only subject we can dare question is his rape conviction, but he is so painfully candid about everything else, it's hard not to take him at his word about that as well. It's pretty hard to sympathize with a multimillionaire who calls twenty or thirty million dollars a "small amount of money," but the purpose of this movie isn't to make anyone sympathize, but rather simply to tell a true story with brutal honesty. And of course even that honesty is filtered through the point of view of Tyson himself, the primary narrator who is talking about himself, but that is okay. because nowhere in Tyson does the film mislead us into thinking it is anything else. This is probably the most honest documentary you are likely to see.
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Watch this for your sake. Then absorb the positive factors...
AgentMovieGoer18 April 2009
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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"The Past is History, The Future is a Mystery"
antmane27 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A fascinating insight into the mind of The Baddest Man on The Planet.

From his invincible crush of Trevor Berbick on November 22nd 1986 for the WBC Heavyweight Championship to the sad submission of a broken man against lowly Kevin McBride on June 11th 2005, every major fight is covered from Tyson's career.

The real insight of the film comes from the insights into Tyson's personal problems. The broken neighborhood, the bullies, the petty crime, the jail time, the money, the missing $300 million, the rape, the "swines", the drugs, the fornications, the failed marriages, the loss of identity, the death of his trainer and Father figure Cus D'Amato. Everything you ever thought you would never see Tyson speak so heartwarming and honestly about is laid bare here, as James Toback successfully opens up an enigma that was previously unwilling to be unopened.

Viewing Tyson upset in the film is beyond poignant, a man who has represented himself as an animal since the mid 1980s and struggled to discard that image ever since, a man who by his own admission never saved any money because he didn't think he would live to spend it. This is a man who ends the documentary with some closure, some honesty about who he was then and who he is now. A family man, a man who wants Grandkids, a man who accepts he no longer has the heart or passion to fight, a man who seems content with just living life like anybody else.

The sad fact is that since the release of this documentary in 2008 the family he speaks so openly and lovingly about at the end of the film has tragically been cut short through the death of Tyson's 4-year-old Daughter Exodus. As a viewer, you can only hope Tyson can channel his loss and his probable anger without turning back to his demons......
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Raw and telling words from the mouth of iron Mike making one feel emotions and sorrow proving one is a product of their own environment.
blanbrn17 October 2009
This 2008 doc is rather telling and revealing as anyone who was a Tyson fan and remembers his fierce glory of the 80's will be taken back in time to the domination. Yet at the same time you as a viewer will feel the pain and breakdown of iron Mike. Anyone who followed his life knows that Tyson was a tortured soul. The 1995 HBO movie was a good biopic, yet here this doc is actual showings of real footage and most touching of all is the words from Iron Mike. All during the film starting from day one when he tells about his troubled and rough upbringing on the Brooklyn streets he had to be a thug to make it. It was the only real life that Mike knew.

As he tells with each word the clips and footage is blended in nicely as the visuals give great meaning to Iron Mike's words. The story is all familiar just this time you get Tyson's take and many will judge for themselves I still don't feel sorry for him I do feel though that he was a tragic figure who was a product of a bad environmental upbringing. Yet many moments that you see along with Mike's words are touching especially as he describes his relationship with the man who found him and helped Mike start it all that's legendary trainer Cus D' Amato. As it was touching to see the footage of how he helped guide Mike along not only in the ring, but also take him in off the streets to a good home. Tyson even gets emotional as he describes the death of Cus that's even a moment you as the viewer feel touched with sadness. Because the first and only person to have every really loved Mike passes.

Also uplifting is seeing the footage of when Mike captured the heavyweight title becoming the youngest champion of all time in the sport. Gradually along the way the pitfalls and traps are showed as Iron Mike opens up about them candid and very brash like as he calls manger Don King trash as clearly Mike feels he was a devil who wanted money. Mike openly talks about his marriage failure to actress and beauty queen Robin Givens as maybe he felt as said in his own words his lack of love and not being around or open to female companionship at an early age hurt his first love experience clearly Robin was bad lust. Along the way the high of money and fame eat away at Tyson as he said it contributed to his losing the title to Buster Douglas in 1990.

Then more problems followed as his anger couldn't be controlled one thing after the other the 1991 rape conviction and prison sentence. To his ear biting incident of Evander, to his own saying that he no longer loved boxing. Overall great doc from James Toback it was nice to hear from Iron Mike in his own words clearly he said it himself he's a tragic and doomed man. Like him or not it was good to hear from a once tragic legend who for a short time ruled the boxing world and the footage was a great history blast from the past taking you back to his glory days of the 80's. "Tyson" is clearly one doc to check out that's especially if you were once a fan and remembered his days of being king more interesting was to hear his side of his rise and crash.
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Desperately Shallow
drqshadow-reviews17 June 2011
I stepped into Tyson with a pretty distinct idea of who the subject was, where he came from, and what I thought of his legacy. Ultimately, I was hoping this kind of long-session chat in a comfortable place with the former champion would reveal some special insight into his complex identity and deliberately checked my preconceptions at the door to better facilitate an open mind. Turns out I really shouldn't have bothered. Despite his best intentions to prove otherwise, Mike Tyson comes across as a simple man who desperately wants to be deep but is either unwilling or unable to hide the truth. At the core of his being he's pure reflex, which is a trait that served him well during his days in the ring but left him ripe for coercion outside its boundaries. Phenomenal athletes rarely double as tangible role models, and Tyson himself offers dramatic proof of that fact. Little more than an ego stroke, the documentary focuses almost exclusively on the ex-champ's point of view and skims over or accepts thin excuses for each of the more intriguing moments of his life. The most surprising thing about it came from Mike's old training footage, and the realization of just how blindingly fast he really was at his peak.
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Does He Even Need A Documentary?
Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson looks at his own life in and out of the ring with a candor and eloquence that is by turns shocking, funny, hair-raising and never less than brutally honest. In other words, Tyson explores... Tyson.

This film portrait ranges from Tyson's earliest memories of growing up on the meanest streets of Brooklyn through his entry into the world of boxing under the stewardship of his beloved trainer Cus D'Amato. It also covers his misadventures with Don King and his tortured marriage to Robin Givens, his roller-coaster ride through the fun house of worldwide fame, and his fortunes won and lost. Tyson 7/10
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Simply the greatest
fellan7623 May 2009
In this movie I got several answers from many questions I had wondered about Tyson. The biggest was what was going on in his head when he bet of Holyfields ear, and after I seen the movie, I thought it was understandable why Tyson did that. It was very interesting to see how his life was and how he's living now. I really hope that people who think that Tyson is an animal see this movie, because here is the real story of him. I really feel sympathy for him after I seen this. For me, Mike Tyson will always be the best boxer of all the time and one of the greatest sportsman. At the moment, this is the best documentary I've ever seen and I thought the movie was very original and well made.
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JoeB13127 September 2009
Honestly, I watched this and found the thing self-serving at best. Tyson tries to blame all of his failings and harm he's caused on others. Particularly was his attempt to dump on the reputation of the young woman he raped in 1991. Sorry, guy, you raped this girl, and a jury of your peers convicted you. Man up, admit you did it and apologize.

You can be sympathetic to Tyson to a degree. People around him used him for their own goals and he was largely too stupid to realize he was being used.

But the bottom line was he was presented with moral choices, made the wrong ones, and deserves no sympathy... He had opportunities most of us would die for, and blew them...
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OK, I'll post the negative review.
rgcustomer3 July 2009
Everybody likes this film but me. So be it.

I can't find much to recommend this film.

I should point out that my review may be tainted by the viewing environment I saw it in. I was at a Windsor International Film Festival screening, where some Chatty Cathys (the real term is unfit for this site) had moved their seats to the left back corner, and talked and laughed loudly over the entire film. They basically added a new sound channel that wasn't supposed to be there, which certainly came as an unpleasant surprise to many of us. I would have walked out, but it was the only showing. So I missed about 10-15% of what was said on screen because they talked over it. Nevertheless, based on the other 85-90% I ultimately don't think I missed much.

That said, here it is: The whole film is just Tyson speaking. Maybe it's a documentary. Maybe it's propaganda. Maybe it's an art film. But it isn't entertaining. Here's a man who has had his brains punched into jelly. Now listen to him speak through an entire film. It's hard to do. Subtitles really would have helped understand the slurred and lisped words some times. But worse, you don't get any wider picture of Tyson than his own mind. This is Tyson on Tyson. But no man is just what he thinks he is himself. Why no words from anyone else? Even when he comments about others, they are given no chance to respond. So it boils down to this is the story Tyson wants to tell about his life. Maybe it's true. Maybe not. Maybe he doesn't know. But it's the usual tale. Nothing new here. No surprises. So why bother? I found the split-screen idea forced. Usually, you'd use that to compare and contrast different things. But here, it's only to distract the viewer from realizing how boring it all is.

I've seen all the Rocky films, Million Dollar Baby, and Don King: Only in America. None are documentaries, one might be a true story, but they're all better than this because they each tell a story that's interesting.

What I would have liked to see was more material NOT directly from Tyson, and more background and detail on key fights and other events in his life. And I guess I wish he had a more interesting or unpredictable life, or had shown some kind of growth, or that his story had been placed in context regarding the rest of the boxing world, or that I didn't already know most of what he did just from the news growing up.

Definitely a mis-fire. But I give it a 6 for at least doing what it apparently set out to do, which is let Tyson tell you what he wants to tell you about Tyson, combined with very brief clips of his fights and news.
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Saw it at Sundance, Saw it again
filmforum24228 April 2009
The first time, I didn't feel compelled to write in. After my second viewing I did. Toback has done a wonderful job of connecting the fans of Mike, me being one of them, to the real Mike Tyson. Nothing new is told. We all watched his decline and, personally, I was heartbroken over it. This film left me less heartbroken but feeling more nostalgic for the man who I used to cheer for. I remember my friends and I would bet if Iron Mike would allow his opponents to survive the first or second round. That's how I want to remember him. A pure fighting machine. Toback did that for me despite the inevitable downfall of Iron Mike.
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Much more than a film about boxing.
pipbaldwin29 December 2018
This documentary is told in Tyson's own words which achieves two great things: Firstly, an extraordinary insight into the relationship between coach and boxer. Listening to Tyson, even 30 years on, it is almost impossible to determine where Cus D'Amato ends and Tyson begins. The voice is all Tyson, but the words, the values, the philosophy... Secondly, an perhaps even more fascinating, is the insight into the life long impact of bullying. A grown man; a brutal, ferocious fighter, who reached the top of the world reduced to tears when talking of his childhood experience of bullying. Extraordinary. Well worth a watch for that insight alone.
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Somewhat Interesting, But Needed More Outside Input
zkonedog11 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Okay, I'll admit it...I watched this film because, well, everybody likes a train wreck, right? Fans of Hollywood seem to need their dish on the latest crazy antics of Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton, news reporters/networks get viewers to tune in with stories of murder and crime, and political junkies are always suckers for a good sex scandal. In the sports world, that same sentiment can be summed up in one man: Mike Tyson.

Despite being one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all-time and becoming the youngest fighter ever to win the heavyweight title, Tyson could not ever rid himself of the demons that lay buried inside his soul. Whether it was pairing up with Don King, going to prison for rape, making publicly lewd comments/gestures, or dismembering his body, Tyson has had one of the biggest falls from grace of any professional athlete in history. Thus, I expected this film to discuss those issues and try to make sense of those hidden Tyson demons.

While that discussion did happen, it was much too one-sided...the entire movie is pretty much just an extended interview with The Baddest Man on the Planet himself. That may not seem like too bad of a format, sort of like letting Tyson "clear the air" of all his past mistakes, but those of us who know anything about Iron Mike know that he doesn't make one bit of sense at any time. Though better, in his advanced age, at completing an understandable sentence (something that eluded him completely during his prime fighting years), he still is a walking, talking, contradiction in terms. He'll making a profound thought in one sentence, then completely contradict himself in the next. Or, on one occasion, he talks about how much he values the women in his life...but then quickly discusses how much he enjoys dominating them sexually.

Thus, because of Tyson's confused mind, this documentary really doesn't shed any light on his past demons (or at least not enough to make them any more understandable). Topics such as his relationship with former mentor Cus D'Amato, his marriage to Robin Givens, his rape conviction, and his wild-man persona beginning after the Evander Holyfield ear-biting fiasco are discussed by Tyson, but no conclusions are ever reached or really interesting points made. I would have much rather seen other sources (friends, family, sports writers, psychologists, etc.) weigh in on Tyson, giving the film a more balanced perspective.

Basically, there really are two different ways to rate this film: If you know nothing (or very little) about Mike Tyson, watching this movie will be an eye-opening experience. However, if (like myself) you already have an extensive background of Tyson's antics, there is very little in the documentary that will surprise you.

Perhaps this film's biggest redeeming characteristic, though, is its ability to show Tyson during his rare moments of clear-headedness and normalcy. At one point, a home video is shown of Iron Mike shadow-boxing with his young daughter, which is incredibly poignant in conveying the notion that Tyson isn't always an anti-social maniac. He's just a man who confronts his inner demons head on...and loses almost every time.
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In his own words
chris_n_malone8 October 2009
In the 80s and early 90s nearly everyone in the United States had an opinion of Mike Tyson. Chances are that if they did not watch boxing that opinion was very negative, but for those of us that did watch boxing we were a bit torn. Before the rape conviction, prison sentence, and subsequent ear biting (insert joke about 'Tyson being the hungrier fighter' here) we watched a boxer the likes of which we hadn't seen. A brilliant strategist, with speed, and power unrivaled in his era Mike Tyson was to boxing what Tiger Woods is to golf today. Furthermore he was nearly always the smaller fighter and we as a people tend to root for the little guy possibly because of our winning the Revolutionary War against Mother England. But then it happened, Mike Tyson was accused of rape and the downward spiral began. You couldn't help but want to see him continue competing, but if these allegations were indeed true how could you reconcile it? We all know what happened after that and chances are very few opinions of him improved.

This documentary is Mike Tyson walking you through his life in his own words. From his troubled youth, to his start in armature boxing, all the way through his ultimate demise, with a lot of relationships sprinkled throughout. He takes very little responsibility for any his trials which probably won't help anyone's opinion of him, but listening to him tell his story was wonderful.

It's a pity this documentary was filmed prior to the death of his daughter, I'd like to know how it happened from his perspective and how he dealt with it.
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Truth doesn't have to mean balance
paul2001sw-18 September 2009
I don't like watching boxing, and Mike Tyson's train wreck of a life is a tragic story in which the protagonist is arguably more perpetrator than victim; but James Toback's biographical documentary is nonetheless fascinating to watch. Toback lets Tyson speak for himself throughout, meaning that we get a very different portrait of the man to that which his accusers may have made; but even understanding that this is Tyson's own version of his life, there's still enough on view to give us an insight into the character of the man. Indeed, if you didn't know the whole story before watching this film, you might not find that much here to interest you: it's knowing what Tyson could have been, and what he was, that makes this defence so fascinating, even though you only see one point of view directly. The saddest thing is the sense that a still unhappier ending may be around the corner.
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Tyson's story the way it is.
busterstronghart13 June 2009
Tyson, the documentary is a new film: When I saw Tyson fight in his younger days, even before he became Heavyweight Champion of the World, when there was only one Heavyweight Champ, I thought that no one would beat him until he would be in his late thirties. I thought he was the only champ who would beat Joe Louis' record 12 year reign...

To me he was furious, the fiercest, most fearsome boxer that I had ever seen. I wanted to check his gloves for the horseshoes that must have been there.

(My father, the real expert, an amateur boxer in his lightweight days, and a real fan, and, further, unlike me, a man who had actually seen fights in person since his short pants days, did not agree -- but he was wrong -- the only time.) -- Dad gave the tip of his hat to Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, and Rocky Marciano. -- and he wasn't sure about Ali. (But, as I said, he was wrong...) And then I heard Tyson on the radio with Joyce Carol Oates ( a boxing fan who had written a non-fiction book called "On Boxing," and the "Amazin' Bill Mazer, a man with total recall, who knew everything there was to know about every fighter going back and probably beyond bare fisted days, beyond Sullivan, Fitzsimmons and Corbett.

But Mike Tyson, the lispy kid fighter, from Brownsville, who owned the Undisputed World's Heavyweight Championship, was right up there with the Amazin' One, and with Joyce Carol Oates, holding his own in the kind of conversation that Norman Mailer had with Jose Torres, Pete Hamill, and Budd Schulberg.

From that moment on I became a Tyson fan, and his unexpected, shocking downfall has been a twenty year disappointment to me.

The movie opens only in NYC and LA, so you lucky ones who live there should go to see it no matter what you think of Mike The Tragic Tyson. We can all learn, even at this age, from our fallen idols. (Well, Joyce, you're not up there with the rest of us, but you will be.) mek Here's something I wrote 12 months ago: Other important matters: recently a book on boxing was written in England. Joyce Carol Oates reviewed it in the New York Review and she mentioned something similar. You may not be aware of this but Oates is an expert on boxing and a fan. I heard her several years ago, with supralapsarian Mike Tyson (also an authority on the history of boxing) and the Amazin' Mazur, a sports announcer with an encyclopedic memory. She fit right in. And Tyson was pretty good too! This is Oates writing: "The symbolism of boxing does not allow for ambiguity: it is as middleweight Albert Camus put it, 'utterly Manichean.' The rites of boxing 'simplify' everything. Good and evil, the winner and the loser. " Later she writes,: Here's "a quote attributed to Sonny Liston: ' It's always the same story--the good guy verses the bad guy.' " What strikes me here is not so much that Camus and Liston arrive at the same conclusion, but rather that Liston's expression is so perfect, so succinct. The simple use of the five cent word instead of the two dollar word.
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