Reviews of movies and TV focused on women

Review: Bruised, Halle Berry directs

Halle Berry in Bruised

Bruised stars Halle Berry as an MMA fighter who struggles to get her life in a good place. Halle Berry directs the film, too, her first effort at directing. She does an excellent job at acting, directing, and fighting like a champ. The film is now on Netflix.

Bruised opens on Jackie Justice (Halle Berry) cleaning someone’s house. She returns to her apartment where she lives with her so-called manager Desi (Adan Canto). It’s a drunken, abusive relationship, which is fine with Jackie. She walked out of a match 4 years ago and hasn’t been in a ring since then. Good things aren’t on her agenda right now.

Halle Berry and Danny Boyd Jr. in Bruised

Then she comes home to see her mother, Angel (Adriane Lenox), on her front step with a six year old boy in tow. That kid is Jackie’s son, Manny (Danny Boyd Jr.). He’s been living with his dad, but dad just got killed. Manny won’t talk or eat for quite a while. Jackie takes him in and her life changes course.

The young actor playing Manny manages to tell his story without words as he comes to grips with his strange new mom and living situation.

Jackie’s relationship with her mother is just as bad as her relationship with Desi. Part of the plot development in the film is her dealing with those two toxic relationships.

Jackie goes to watch a fight and meets Immaculate (Shamier Anderson). He wants to manage her and get her back in the ring. He sends her to Buddhakan (Sheila Atim) for training.

Sheila Atim in Bruised

Buddhakan is an excellent trainer. She’s tough but wise and kind. She’s good for Jackie in many ways. They become close.

There are two sex scenes in this movie. The contrast between them is brilliantly done. For Jackie and Desi the buildup to sex is physical and violent. The sex is rough and over in seconds. The second scene is between Jackie and Buddhakan. This scene is built from caring and kindness. It’s slow, sensuous, and tender. Much as Jackie needs and wants that kind of love, we realize later she’s not yet sure she deserves it.

Jackie trains – hard. Watching Halle Berry master the physical training in this film is jaw dropping impressive.

Jackie tries to bond with Manny. She has to ask someone how to get him in school. Much of her life is in turmoil, but she’s sober and working at it.

Immaculate puts her in a title bout with the featherweight champion Lady Killer (Valentina Shevchenko). That’s right. Her comeback fight is against the current champion. This fight fills most of the 3rd act and leads to the resolution of the story.

Bruised is an inspiring story about a comeback both in terms of athletics and life. Jackie gets a second chance at being a mother, at being a fighter, and at experiencing a healthy relationship. She still has work to do when the film ends, but she’s on her way.

Considering that Halle Berry was in almost every frame of the story, I was really impressed with how well directed the film was. You wouldn’t know from watching that Halle Berry was multitasking two huge jobs in making the film work. Kudos for that. Michelle Rosenfarb wrote the film.

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2 responses to “Review: Bruised, Halle Berry directs”

  1. To me this was her best role. I’ve watched a few fights on Facebook featuring ferocious fights that seem more brutal than you’d normally see in fight between men. One on particular was a blood bath. I’ve also seen some fake fighting. What Bruised showed didn’t look like fake fighting. I did see one pulled punch that would have put Berry into the twilight zone but unless you knew what you were looking for you wouldn’t notice it. People who watch those fights all the time weren’t impressed much. But for the uninitiated, and I include myself in that, the fights looked real to me. However, everyone on other sites I’ve visited, was impressed with Halle’s direction and the effort she put in.

    The ending was not necessarily surprising or unexpected. But what I think most people missed was the tragedy that was the real ending that isn’t on film and is only alluded to once or twice during the film. That was her expected future if she didn’t win. Fighters mostly are punching bags from beginning to end of a career in the ring. By the time you’re in your 30s, if you aren’t the Champion yet, you never will be. From there, it’s a downhill slide into obscurity with or without your mental faculties.

    Jackie, with a traumatized son, no place to live, no savings, no clue about nutrition or raising children was at the wrong end of her career to be having those problems. It looks like a recipe for no future and a lot of heartbreak to me.

    The only person in her circle who didn’t want a piece of her was her mother who softened up a bit when she had to; but in real life, I have my doubts that would happen but it works for the show.

    Halle’s commitment to the program was inspiring. She put in the work. That didn’t look like a stunt double to me.

    The point where she loses the fight was when she attempted the arm bar. It’s a favourite hold where your arm gets bent backwards if you aren’t strong enough to break out of it. Halle wasn’t strong enough to hold it. What that tells you is that she had no business being in the ring with a fighter of that caliber. She couldn’t win. She was clearly the weaker fighter and only a miracle hail Mary of a punch was going to win it for her. That’s no way to go into a title fight of any description. When you see who the fighter is, you know Halle is once more just someone’s paycheck for showing up.

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