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TOtimes Movies: Halle Berry directs and stars in BRUISED – Violence and tenderness

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BRUISED – Halle Berry makes her directorial debut with this film. She also stars as the mixed martial arts fighter Jackie Justice. A few years before, Jackie had a bad moment, resulting in a disgraced exit from the violent sport. In the meantime, she is leading a marginalized existence, like many black people in American cities. She is also living with Desi (Adan Canto), her boyfriend and manager.

One night, two crucial events would turn things around for Jackie. Desi takes her to a seedy place where underground fights are staged. There are no rules, she is told. The fighters are women, the spectators, mostly men. Jackie is uninterested, and at first, doesn’t fall for the provocations from one of the most violent fighters. In the end, however, she fights. That allows her to be spotted by Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) league promoter (Shamier Anderson), who would offer her to be trained by the best team in the field.

One night, two crucial events would turn things around for Jackie. Desi takes her to a seedy place where underground fights are staged. There are no rules, she is told. The fighters are women, the spectators, mostly men. Jackie is uninterested, and at first, doesn’t fall for the provocations from one of the most violent fighters. In the end, however, she fights. That allows her to be spotted by Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) league promoter (Shamier Anderson), who would offer her to be trained by the best team in the field.

Jackie (Halle Berry) and her autistic boy Manny (Danny Boyd Jr.) would have a complex relationship

Another surprising event would hit her that night: her mother has brought Jackie’s son Manny (Danny Boyd Jr.), who is autistic. Jackie gave up the child years ago. The presence of the child adds a new problem to the many that Jackie was already facing. She then decides to take the offer and start a very rigorous training under the supervision of Bobbi Buddhakan Berroa (Sheila Atim). She was a former fighter who is now a strange character, moving between martial arts and meditation.

The final purpose of Jackie’s intensive training is to dispute the world championship to Lady Killer (Valentina Shevchenko), which is, of course, the climactic part toward the end of the movie.

Lady Killer (Valentina Shevchenko) and her challenger, Jackie Justice (Halle Berry) in what is essentially a very violent sport

“Bruised” is an interesting film not only at the level of a sports film, with some training scenes reminiscing those of the iconic movie “Rocky,” but as a social portrayal of the marginalized lives led by many people, especially in the black community. Violence is of the essence of the extreme sport practiced by Jackie. Still, it is also an element in everyday life, particularly in the domestic milieu. Despite that sordid atmosphere, there is still room for tenderness, as expressed in the complex relationship between Manny and his mother.

Warning: given the context of the story, there are many scenes of violence, some sex scenes, and partial nudity.

Available in movie theatres (November 19) and on Netflix (November 24).

lead photo The two rivals for the MMA World Championship are presented to the press:
Jackie Justice (Halle Berry) and Lady Killer (Valentina Shevchenko)

Sergio Martinez
By: Sergio Martinez – info@mtltimes.ca

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