First Hit: Fascinating, disturbing and a very interesting view into one of the most feared men in boxing.
Mike Tyson was one of the most devastating ruthless boxers the heavy weight division has ever known. As he became a public figure with this notoriety, he also became one of the most devastatingly lost public individuals we’ve known as well.
Mike is pictured through most of the film sitting on a white couch with two colored pillows on each side of him as he calmly describes his upbringing from Brooklyn. Throughout the interview we flash to scenes or pictures of him as a younger man, boxing, hanging out with women, and with his mentor Cus D’Amato.
Mike, although not particularly articulate, is intelligent, thoughtful (full of thoughts not mindful), and is introspective yet seemingly has little control, at times, over his behavior. Witness his account and voice over of his fight with Evander Holyfield where he bit off Evander’s ear; twice.
One of the more revealing things about Mike, which is brought out by a number of segments, is that he was afraid a lot. He was moved and motivated by the fear of failing and the fear of getting hurt both internally and externally.
Fearing each boxer before each fight, this fear would change to confidence that he was unstoppable the moment he entered the ring.
His other behavior with women was partially covered and there was no attempt to tell both sides of the rape conviction story of him and Desiree Washington.
James Toback directed this documentary. Although Mike’s out of the ring meltdowns (watch his comeback press conference when he calls out a “white reporter”), the outstanding montage of fight scenes reminded me of Mike’s utter devastation in the ring. James also used split screen views and fades during the interview to create additional views and senses of Mike. The last ring interview was perfect and reflected Mike’s evolution, “I don’t have the heart for it any more.”
Overall: This was powerfully well executed film of a public figure which has been honored and vilified by the public. Whether you like boxing or not, this is a story about Mike Tyson learning about himself.