Tyson (R13)

Film image
James Toback
Mike Tyson

The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/03/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 90 minutes

Despite its apparent one-sidedness, this is a riveting and unexpectedly moving documentary that's guaranteed to make you view its subject in a new light.

What's it all about?
James Toback's riveting documentary consists of a series of interviews with Mike Tyson, interspersed with archive footage that spans his entire career, from his rise to the undisputed heavyweight boxing champion of the world in the 1980s, to his conviction and three year prison sentence for rape in 1992 and the further humiliation of his 1997 comeback, when he bit Evander Holyfield's ear. Throughout the film, Tyson tells the story in his own words, often going off on tangents and occasionally losing his cool, such as when he briefly talks about the victim in the rape trial or when he refuses to go into detail about his prison experience.

The Good
Toback has a personal relationship with Tyson, who has appeared in two of his previous films. While on one level, it's easy to criticise the film for being a one-sided version of events, it's also arguable that their friendship allows for a degree of openness from Tyson that is genuinely surprising.

Contrary to expectations, this is not the car-crash of unfettered, ego-maniacal ranting that it could have been. Instead, Tyson proves unusually perceptive about his life and career, to the point where you suspect the hand of a bloody good therapist.

The Great
The other big surprise of the film is how articulate and charismatic Tyson proves to be, even if his speech impediment and oddly high-pitched voice take some getting used to. Perhaps the most moving segment of the film is when he talks about the pressures of fame and describes himself as feeling scared and intimidated inside, yet constantly having to project the tough guy image – this is illustrated with a brilliantly chosen piece of footage in which you can actually see the fear in Tyson's eyes as crowds bustle around him.

Worth seeing?
Tyson is a superbly made, genuinely fascinating documentary that should appeal to both fans and non-fans alike. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 23/01/2020 20:19

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