Bruised

Review of Oscar-winner Halle Berry’s directorial debut, ‘Bruised’

March 25, 2022 Mario Bautista 277 views

Bruised1‘BRUISED’ is a sports drama that is the directorial debut of Oscar-winner Halle Berry. She also plays the lead role of a UFC fighter named Jackie Justice, also known as Pretty Bull.

Some years ago, she forfeited a major fight and she is now a has-been who lives with her manager-boyfriend, Desi (Adan Canto). She earns a living by working as a housecleaner while drinking a lot.

Desi wants her to fight again and takes her to an illegal underground mixed martial arts match. A local promoter, Immaculate (Shamier Anderson), sees her and convinces her to train to get back into shape.

Things get more complicated when Jackie’s mom, Angel (Adrien Lenox), suddenly pops up to give her Manny (Danny Boyd), her young son who she has not seen since he was a baby. Manny was put into Angel’s custody after his dad was killed in a shooting. Manny saw it and has stopped talking ever since.

Jackie accepts her silent son but doesn’t really know how to be a mother to him. She undergoes training with Buddhakan (Sheila Atim), and slowly regains her fighting form. She also stops her fondness for alcohol. And she breaks up with Desi when he becomes mean to Manny. She and Manny move back to her mother Angel. And things will become worse before they get better for her.

Halle is quite believable as the mixed martial arts fighter who is living in disgrace with years of bottled up regret and rage boiling inside of her. She really looks the part of a strained, washed-up ex-fighter.

The movie is actually a story of redemption about a woman down in the dumps who reclaims her power as a fighter and as a mother when everyone else has counted her out.

The material is not really new as the familiar tale of a sports figure who went “laos” and tries to regain lost glory has been told several times before. The problem is that Halle’s direction makes it such a badly paced, melodramatic tale that is barely coherent.

We see familiar elements we’ve seen before: the abusive boyfriend, the drug-addicted mother of Halle, the supportive friend and the poor boy with such an unhappy childhood. But such shallow tropes hardly make the movie more engaging.

Why Halle chose this material for her directorial debut is not apparent. Can it be she’s a fan of mixed martial arts? But we really don’t see anything new about her training, which is reduced here to a montage sequence of her going through the usual routines.

And sad to say, Halle just lacks sympathetic chemistry with the other cast members: her boyfriend, her son who never felt like her son and most of all, her mother who never felt like her mother at all. We hope she will be more successful in her next directorial attempt as “Bruised” barely leaves any mark at all. Or maybe, she’s really better off as an actress than as a director.

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