While it is a formula, Bruised beats all the odds by being a fairly entertaining and moving sports drama that has everything one would expect from a Berry movie.
It’s hard to believe that Bruised, Written by Michelle Rosenfarb, it was once to be directed by Nick Casavettes starring Blake Lively. In this version of reality, Halle Berry takes over directing and acting roles. With your innate magnetism and fierce commitment, Bruised is without a doubt his movie. On BruisedShe is crafting the typical comeback sports drama, but Berry’s unique ability to be so engaged with her characters’ physical and mental journey is what helps this sports drama stand out from the rest. Although formulaic, Bruised beats all the odds by being a fairly entertaining and moving sports drama that has everything one would expect from a Berry movie.
The most notable item in Bruised is Berry’s character, Jackie Justice. She goes tthrough him. Jackie “Pretty Bull” Justice was a star in the UFC until a brutal fight sent her on the run. After a couple of years out of the game, he finds himself doing it again. Throwing a wrench into her already crumbling life is her surprise reunion with Manny (Danny Boyd, Jr.), the son she abandoned.
Bruised skews more Left handed that I think when comparing similar and recent sports dramas. There is a grungy rawness to how Berry and cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco capture the film. The camera is always on the move, evoking that feeling of constant unease or excitement. The goal is to get the audience into Jackie’s head, her surroundings and her sport. The movie lacks that Hollywood glitz and glitter that is often distracting from the stark and brutal reality of what is being portrayed. Bruised it’s very much a movie that wants viewers to feel all the hits, both physical and emotional. Berry is exceptional here. As always, he gives it his all. The physicality that the paper demands is unreal. It can be exhausting watching your character work out and fight.
However, Berry thrives on his low-key performance, which is just as impressive as his fighting physique. Jackie isn’t a great talker, so Berry must rely on a physical performance to excite every thought and feeling. Sharing the screen with Berry is Sheila Atim as Jackie’s new coach, Bobbi “Buddhakan” Berroa. Atim stands in front of the Oscar winner and instantly captures attention. He has this calm and comforting attitude that dominates every space he occupies. Jackie may be the fighter in the room, but Buddakhan can be an Amazon because of the way she carries herself. Shamier Anderson also stands out. The rising star’s character isn’t great (personality-wise), but Anderson’s charisma helps. The most critical performance rests on the shoulders of the young Danny Boyd Jr. He has a very bright future ahead of him if he is giving such moving performances at his age.
While the movie is good at following a formula, it fails with some narrative options that throw its balance off balance. Rosenfarb’s script is fine, but might have needed some tweaking. There’s a revelation about Jackie’s past regarding her mother that feels too old to go unnoticed for the rest of the movie and brings the story to a sudden halt. While it paints a clearer picture of Jackie and the decisions she makes, it just feels out of place. Overall, the story sticks to its formula with very few twists and turns. However, the heart of the film lies in Berry’s commitment to the role of producer, director, and actor. The verdict: Bruised It is a well-crafted movie; not many novice directors can make a movie as well done as this one.
Berry’s commitment to maintaining femininity throughout the film is also an important aspect. This is not just the story of a fighter, it is the story of a woman who fights. Fighting for her life from a young age and cultivating anger within her for years to propel her forward. Her struggles and pain are rooted in her being a woman and in the specific trials and tribulations that come with that. Berry, as a producer, emphasizes that point by collecting a variety of female artists to provide the film’s soundtrack. Used wisely, music combined with Jackie’s redemption story paints the picture of a woman finding her confidence, voice, and strength. Sport itself means little, as the story is really about overcoming one’s pains and anxieties to better choose for themselves and the people who depend on them to do so. Bruised is an exceptionally well-made film, with Berry proving that after decades of acting under her belt, she is ready for a new chapter in her life as a director.
Bruised is available to stream on Netflix starting Wednesday, November 24. It is 129 minutes long and is rated R for pervasive language, some nudity / sexual content, and violence.