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TYSON

Director: JAMES TOBACK

U.S.A • 2008 • COLOUR • DIGITAL • 90 MIN


POPULAR LEGEND HAS MIKE TYSON DOWN AS THE MOST FEROCIOUS FIGHTER IN THE HISTORY OF HEAVYWEIGHT BOXING, A CONVICTED RAPIST, AND A BANKRUPT WHO SQUANDERED HIS ESTIMATED $300 MILLION EARNINGS.
This extraordinary portrait from maverick director James Toback allows ‘Iron’ Mike to tell his side of the story, revealing a conflicted figure whose personal trajectory is as dramatic as any Greek tragedy. The terrifying fury he unleashed on opponents in the ring brought him the world’s riches, yet it also proved his undoing, landing him in jail and contributing to one of the most controversial incidents in modern professional sport — the night he bit off part of rival fighter Evander Holyfield’s ear…
In his own films, including the legendary Fingers, Toback has often investigated the line between self-destructive anger and self-knowing analysis — while also displaying a contentious fascination with the allure of African-American physical potency — and there’s definitely a sense of his guiding hand in the film’s combination of archive biopic and candid interview footage. Tyson himself comes across as an intensely self-aware individual, clearly shaped by the traumatic bullying of his Brooklyn and Bed-Stuy childhood, where he drifted into petty crime and was frequently assaulted because of his high-pitched, lisping voice. His whole story proves an intriguing, sometimes repellent exemplar of machismo in extremis, where the early slights on his masculinity fuelled a lifetime of personal and professional rage, empowering and self-lacerating. In the end, the demon is humanised, as we see someone who’s paid for his tragic flaws. It’s an unforgettable encounter. — Trevor Johnston.

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