AFI DALLAS Review: TYSON

Chase Whale

by: Chase Whale
May 8th, 2009

Rating 8/10

When making a documentary about boxing’s most notorious, ear-biting fighter, you need to carefully construct how you portray the guy.  With record knockouts in less than eight seconds, it wouldn’t be wise to show his ill-behaved ways without shining a light on him.  This brings the big question: how do you tell a story about a self-described chaotic maniac and get all the facts out?  For James Toback, his answer was simple: stick the camera in front of the man’s face and let him talk.

Mike's story begins with pigeons. At the time, a small kid living in Brooklyn didn't have much to do. Hobbies included robbing, killing, or beating people up for money (goes well with robbing). Mike, being a small kid, took up pigeon flying. One day some kids in the neighborhood took it upon themselves to steal his pigeons. All it took was the pop of one of the pigeon's necks that would change Mike's life forever.

Toback's unique vision of TYSON included many edits, split screens, and one camera sitting in front of Tyson's face, having him tell his story.  Nothing is left out in this documentary (except Mike Tyson's punch out, which I asked about in my interview with Mr. Toback), including his ROCKY-like relationship with trainer Cuz D'Mato, his greatest and worst boxing matches, his horrible marriage with Robin Givens, his three-year stint in jail for his alleged rape charges, his battle with gonorrhea (which flared up during a boxing match), and collected videos from his fights, interviews, and training sessions during the 80's-90's. Toback tells the story of how Mike rose to become the world's most celebrated boxer, only to end up a has-been, losing roughly $300 million to drugs, court fees and self-admitted pure stupidity.

One of the many stand-out scenes takes place during Mike's last fight with Kevin McBride. He admits that the only reason why he did this fight was for a payday, to feed his kids.  He’s “not an animal anymore,” he says.  He's tired of fighting; it's not in his heart anymore.  He just wants to take care of his kids and see them blossom.

To close, this isn't your ordinary documentary and everything isn't necessarily 100% accurate. This is just Mike Tyson telling you what he wants you to know.  It ended with me wanting to know more, but he left us with this:

“What I’ve done in the past is history, and what I’m gonna do in the future is a mystery.”

Check out my interview with James Toback HERE!

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  • http://katerbland.blogspot.com Kate Erbland

    “Hobbies included robbing, killing, or beating people up for money (goes well with robbing).” –> BAHAHA. Love it.

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