Tyson
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Whether you’re a boxing fan or not, you’re bound to know a little bit about former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. Maybe you remember hearing about his marriage to actress Robin Givens. Or his jail time. Or that whole fiasco with Evander Holyfield’s ear. Or maybe you’ve recently heard about his young daughter’s tragic death. But, no matter what you’ve heard about him in the past—and no matter what your opinion of him may be—I can guarantee that, after watching director James Toback’s documentary, Tyson, you’ll never look at the controversial boxer the same way again.

More than just the story of the legendary boxer’s rise and fall, Tyson is an up-close-and-personal autobiography—a shockingly honest and forthright (and even moving) account, told in Tyson’s own words. It’s a surprisingly simple film, mostly made up of interview footage, with Tyson relaxing on a couch, relating his story. But despite the fact that it’s little more than 90 minutes of a talking head—with the occasional archive footage—it’s actually quite captivating.

  
 
From the first few minutes of the film, you’ll realize that this isn’t just another self-promotional puff piece. As was the case throughout his career, Tyson doesn’t pull any punches here. He opens up about his tough childhood on the streets of Brooklyn, his teenage crimes, and his time in and out of New York’s juvenile detention centers, where he first learned to box. He explains how boxing—and his trainer, Cus D’Amato—changed his life. And he goes into more detail about his career—recalling the good times and the bad, even talking through the details of specific fights.

And, of course, there’s the personal stuff. Tyson opens up about his relationships—the sex, the fights, and the cheating. He talks about Desiree Washington, the “wretched swine of a woman” who accused him of rape. He talks about his rocky relationship with “bad man” Don King. And he discusses everything in between—from prison and addiction to family and religion.

Since the majority of the film is simply Tyson talking to the camera (with a few distracting editing techniques thrown in from time to time), Tyson isn’t exactly a thrilling film—and, at times, it feels a bit drawn out. But Tyson is such a fascinating character that you won’t really care. He’s honest and emotional. He shares his joys, his accomplishments, and his fondest memories, but he also expresses his bitterness, his frustration, and his regrets—and he does it all in his own words. Sometimes, he’s surprisingly eloquent; sometimes, he mixes up words and pronunciations. But he’s almost always entertaining.

Even if you’ve never sat through a boxing match, you’ll be mesmerized by this candid character study.

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