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Boxing champ Mike Tyson in his own words

James Toback’s riveting documentary consists of a series of interviews with Mike Tyson, interspersed with archival 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. 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 train wreck of unfettered, egomaniacal 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 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. – Matthew Turner, ViewLondon
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Directed by: 
James Toback
Running Time: 
Feature Documentary
Screenplay by: 
James Toback

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