Certainly not one to shy away from controversial topics, director James Toback's second non-fiction feature is "Tyson", a biopic of the boxing legend (and all-around controversial figure) Mike Tyson (who appeared in director Toback's "When Will I Be Loved" and "Black and White", playing himself.)
The picture examines the former boxer's wild life, starting with a look at his childhood (where he was bullied) and progressing up towards his modern-day highs and lows. The picture opens with multiple views of Tyson, all of which are speaking - however, one voice stands out from the pack, asking: "Who am I?" The movie does a reasonably good job of trying to piece that together, trying to piece back together the life of a man who had it all and lost his way.
The documentary is largely a mixture of Tyson chatting in a room mixed with archive footage. The fighter is a rather fascinating character, and given that the director and Tyson appear to be friends, Tyson opens up about his life in a way that I don't believe that he really has in the past, chatting about the real emotions going into fights early on, as well as his history with legendary trainer Cus D'Amato, who had a big impact on the young man's life. One section where Tyson literally leads the viewer through the process of getting "in the zone" at the start of a fight and through the round is particularly interesting.
The movie leans somewhat towards the better aspects of Tyson's life (he talks about the remarkable experiences that came with success, meeting with various world leaders, the reaction of fans around the world making it feel as if he'd never left the US), but does certainly touch on some of the negatives (the relationship with Robin Givens.) There's some volatility visible to the interviews, whether intentional or not - Tyson can go from being funny and light to dark - but underlying it all is a certain sadness and melancholy.
"Tyson" isn't a film that will get a lot of repeat viewings, but it is a surprisingly interesting portrait of Tyson and a good overview of the boxer's life.
VIDEO: The film is presented in 1.85:1 (1080p/AVC) by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Image quality was fine, considering the material. The newly filmed interview footage appeared crisp and clean, for the most part. However - and understandably so - the archive footage can vary quite a bit, with some scenes looking soft or even a bit hazy at times.
Some mild wear is spotted on occasion during the archive footage, but the picture otherwise remained clean, with no edge enhancement or pixelation. Colors looked natural, with no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: "Tyson" is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Audio quality is fine, as the front-heavy "documentary"-style sound mix offered clear, well-recorded dialogue.
EXTRAS: Commentary from writer/director Toback< as well as the "Day With James Toback", "Iron Mike: Toback Talks Tyson" and "Big Picture Show" featurettes. Trailers for other Sony titles are also included, and the title is BD-Live enabled.
Final Thoughts: "Tyson" isn't a film that will get a lot of repeat viewings, but it is a surprisingly interesting portrait of Tyson and a good overview of the boxer's life. The Blu-Ray offers fine audio/video quality and a few solid extras.
The Film B