A suitably bruising if formulaic sports movie, Netflix’s Bruised proves Halle Berry has directorial chops in her feature film-helming debut. She also stars as Jackie Justice, a washed-up MMA fighter who had the UFC at her bare feet before a fight went south, thanks to mismanagement and alcoholism. Now working as a cleaner, Jackie’s a hasbeen, teased at bus stops and very down on her luck – but opportunity comes knocking in the shape of a new trainer. The Zen mantras and tough love of Buddhakhan, played by Sheila Atim, pull Berry back into fitness.
Along the way, Berry has to deal with her abusive partner – Adan Canto’s Desi, a mis-manager and control freak – and also she finds out about her son Manny (Danny Boyd Jnr) who is left in her care following the death of his father. He will not speak a word to her, the mother he was told was dead, and the film offers a touching reconciliation between the two. Berry has a crack at a championship bout and at redemption, but can she face the cage once more?
As Jackie recovers her form, Bruised features some brutal fight scenes that go alongside an equally gritty relationship drama. This fighter has been hurled obstacles from her family throughout, and although sometimes lapsing into very familiar territory Berry makes compelling choices around Michelle Rosenfarb’s script both as director and actor – and highlighting her own superfitness for good measure (jumping burpees, anyone)? Watchable, downbeat with not quite the euphoric punch in the air finale, Bruised is still a solid grapple.
Dir: Halle Berry (15) (132 mins)
Streaming on Netflix now
words KEIRON SELF
Events are Back!
If you’re running or promoting events in Wales, list them here for FREE.