James Toback's new documentary Tyson
is a fascinating look at the former heavyweight champ who has had one of the most notoriously controversial careers of anyone who's ever entered the ring. Essentially an extended interview with the man, the movie pulls no punches in recounting his life, starting with his troubled youth that found him going in and out of juvenile detention centers, and ending with his evolution into the proud father who maintains he's a new man now that he leads a quiet life in Las Vegas' suburbs. When he was not yet 20, Tyson found a much-needed mentor in trainer Cus D'Amato, who not only taught him how to win, but also instilled a sense of discipline, fleeting though it was. From that point on, Tyson became one of boxing's most menacing fighters. The doc touches upon all the controversy: the Robin Givens rape charges, which Tyson still denies; the ugly, ear-biting fight with Evander Holyfield, which Tyson says he can't recall because he blacked out; and the now-strained relationship with sleazy promoter Don King, about whom Tyson has nothing good to say. Almost apologetic, the soft-spoken (albeit with that distinctively high-pitched voice) Tyson certainly doesn't gloss over any of this. And yet Tyson
's point of view is purely one-dimensional; you never hear from Givens, Holyfield, or King. All you get is Tyson on Tyson. And that limitation keeps a good movie from becoming a great one.
Tyson opens Friday, June 12, at the Regal Fiesta.