Review of Tyson

Review of Tyson directed by James Toback
Rating ****

I'm not particularly a fan of Mike Tyson or of boxing, but there was a lot to like about this film. I can't remember seeing any other film with a similar format. It's basically an autobiography on film. If the director wanted to, he could probably take the transcripts as is and publish a book called Tyson. He wouldn't even have to record an audio version. All he would have to do is take the recordings from the film.

That book, however, wouldn't be as interesting as this film. Seeing Mike Tyson tell his own story while scenes from his career are interspersed before, during, and after his many anecdotes is a whole other experience.

What makes Tyson's story so compelling is his tumultuous highs and lows. He grows up in poverty; rises to heavy weight champion of the world; looses it all; goes to prison; regains his title; looses his title. One thing you can say about him is that when he said goodbye to boxing, he never looked back. He knew when it was time to quit.

This film, though,is much more than Mike Tyson just sitting on a sofa talking about his life. The director uses a number of techniques to add layers to what could have been a talking head documentary. For one, he uses split screens throughout, providing a unique perspective. Sometimes the entire screen is filled with Tyson's tattooed face. Other times we see Tyson walking along a beach while other scenes play out in split screens above and below.

Not being a boxing fan, I haven't watched many fights. I do remember watching Spinks fight once because he was from St. Louis. I can remember seeing highlights of Tyson in his prime and thinking that he was unbeatable, which he was back then. I did get to see Mike Tyson fight live once. It was a pay for view fight. I saw him lose to Buster Douglas while watching the fight at an open bar on a moonlit beach in Naples, Florida.

The DVD had several extras including an excellent audio commentary from director James Toback. Add this one to your queue.

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