By Ken Tucker
Updated April 28, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Tyson

type
  • Movie
genre

Two seasons ago, director Barbara Kopple’s remarkable NBC documentary about boxer Mike Tyson offered such a straightforward, harrowing, yet sympathetic view of the fighter that all these months later a docudrama like TYSON (HBO, April 29, 8-10 p.m.) seems superfluous. Based on Jose Torres’ book, Fire and Fear: The Inside Story of Mike Tyson, HBO’s Tyson is the sort of overwrought melodrama you’d expect about this subject, full of hokey dialogue. Nonetheless, I couldn’t take my eyes off it, because Tyson is filled with striking performances. Michael Jai White (Universal Soldier) has Tyson’s little-boy voice, shy gaze, and hair-trigger temper down cold. As his trainer, Cus D’Amato, George C. Scott offers a canny, sly turn as a tough nice guy. Paul Winfield’s interpretation of promoter Don King is brilliant. Winfield is physically perfect, right down — or up — to King’s electrified hairdo, and his acting is at once an accurate portrayal and a wicked satire of King’s bombastic behavior. (In the context of Tyson, even sports commentator Dick Schaap, playing himself, comes off as a stinging parody of Dick Schaap.) Because this is HBO, the full force of the violence in Tyson’s life can be shown, and it’s invigorating to see a sports film in which the casual, vehement obscenities that lots of athletes use can be made to seem like natural conversation. Tyson’s script, by Robert Johnson (The Tunnel), hits all the best-known incidents in its subject’s life: his close emotional ties to D’Amato; his troubled marriage to Robin Givens (Kristen Wilson, cleverly subtle); solid re-creations of Tyson’s biggest bouts. With the real-life Mike Tyson now out of jail, and the public curious about when the convicted rapist will return to the ring, Tyson is the most honorable of pop-cultural exploitations: a TV movie with a point of view — that Tyson is a gifted, abused, but selfish, dangerous man. I’ll wager Iron Mike won’t like it.

Episode Recaps

Tyson

type
  • Movie
genre
mpaa
  • R
runtime
  • 88 minutes
director
Advertisement

Comments