Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Halle Berry's directorial debut is no knockout

Bruised, a movie about a down-and-out UFC fighter, marks Halle Berry's debut as a director. Not only did Berry direct but she also stars as Jackie Justice, a once-promising UFC fighter who has sworn never to participate in a cage fight again. Earning her keep as a maid, Jackie lives with her abusive boyfriend (Adan Canto), a jerk who wants to manage a ring comeback Jackie insists she doesn’t want to make.  A promoter named Immaculate (Shamier Anderson) and a big life change force Jackie to reconsider. Immaculate introduces Jackie to Buddhakan (Sheila Atim), a coach who meditates and helps get Jackie back on track. Jackie badly needs to find a better path because the son (Danny Boyd Jr.) she gave up at birth has re-entered her life. The emotionally damaged six-year-old doesn’t speak, a quality that doesn’t extend to Jackie’s bumptious mother (Adriane Lenox). Will Jackie salvage a career in the ring? Will she grow into her role as a mother even as she holds her own against Lady Killer, a character played by real-life UFC fighter Valentina Shevchenko?  Will the movie be floored by cliches? Despite a few unexpected twists, Bruised mostly works and overworks its way through formulaic elements. Berry’s convincing but the movie feels punched out before the second round. 

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