Oscar-winner Halle Berry makes her feature film directorial debut with Bruised. A decently spun redemption tale about an MMA fighter’s journey. Back to the octagon years after suffering a brutal loss in a wickedly one-sided fight. Bruce doesn’t exactly steer clear of genre cliches or sappy sports story elements but Barry’s directing and performance as the lead helps it hit a little bit harder.
Bruised Movie Review Directed by Halle Berry
That’s Jackie Justice she used to be famous, a young kid worth fighting for Bruce Spares at no expense in the tropes department when it comes to the underdog story of one Jackie Justice. She’s a hardscrabble former UFC wrestler whose life is left a mess after her boyfriend slash manager ruins her 10-0 record by putting her in a fight she’s not prepared for years later. Jackie is an alcoholic mess and working as a housekeeper is still under the thumb of her crappy boyfriend.
Despite some paint by the elements of the number Barry works hard to bring an authenticity to bruised getting down and dirty in the cage and physically digging in as a performer to present us with a character to root for one who we want to see succeed as a fighter and a mother. Bruce wonderfully takes Jackie an aging warrior who some may say blew her shot and pushes her as a Marvel, who still has toxicity to expel from her life and in doing so has a worthy story to tell one of the more surprising parts of Bruce is Jackie’s third act returned to the cage and her big showdown with dominant lightweight champion lady-killer played by MMA fighter Valentina Shevchenko.
Halle Berry’s ‘Bruised’ walks to a familiar beat
The film slowly loads itself up with new people in Jackie’s life who you might expect to see cheer her on or be there for her as motivation during a crisis of faith but she goes it alone and it’s here that Bruce’s message sticks its landing the best this is Jackie’s crucible win or lose she’ll be in that ring by herself.
The arrival of Jackie’s six-year-old son Manny and a spark of interest from a local promoter simultaneously forces and compels Jackie to set her life straight dispelling the darkness that presently pummels her while also confronting her painful past Barry’s Jackie is a gritty survivor, whose obstacles at times feels insurmountable there was definitely more to mine here with Manny played by Danny Boyd Jr. the child re-enters Jackie’s life as a character who doesn’t speak leaving him feeling like a bit of a blank slate at times but Barry knows how to play off it.
Often having Jackie see Manny as a reflection of her own traumas Bruised isn’t flashy per se but it still exudes glamour as a notably unglamorous project. Barry gives riveting performance at times unleashing blood sweat and tears as part of Jackie’s courageous comeback story-wise though there’s nothing enticingly fresh here the performances are strong particularly Barry and Sheila Atim who plays Jackie’s trainer and the film is a promising start for Barry’s budding directing career but Jackie’s battle back from the brink only ever reaches medium levels of drama.
Halle Berry directs a raw cage-fighting drama
Bruised is a solid start for Halle Berry’s new directing prospects landing is a traditionally fine movie full of standard drama beats though light on surprises Barry and co-star Sheila Atim are great as his young Danny Boyd though his character’s inability to speak feels like a cop-out or at least a shortcut around some necessary conflict. The film at times slips too easily into needle drops and sparring montages in order to tell its story but Barry is a sensation when she switches on her rage.