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Tyson (2009)



Average Rating: 7.1/10
Reviews Counted: 136
Fresh: 114 | Rotten: 22

A fascinating, emotional, and frank confessional from Iron Mike that sheds a sympathetic light on one of boxing's most controversial icons.


Average Rating: 7.3/10
Critic Reviews: 40
Fresh: 34 | Rotten: 6

A fascinating, emotional, and frank confessional from Iron Mike that sheds a sympathetic light on one of boxing's most controversial icons.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 6,730

My Rating

Movie Info

Assembled from over 30 hours of interviews with the controversial heavyweight champion, director James Toback takes the helm for a feature-length documentary exploring the life and career of self-destructive pugilist Mike Tyson. From his early years under the wing of famed boxing promoter Don King to his notorious match against Evander Holyfield and his conviction on sexual assault charges, Tyson's turbulent life is explored in the kind of comprehensive manner that could only have been made


Documentary, Sports & Fitness

Aug 18, 2009


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All Critics (140) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (114) | Rotten (22) | DVD (5)

Half-appealing, half-pathetic.

July 16, 2009 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It all adds up to a fascinating psychological study, a film that goes beyond both the public persona and the fighter's own spin to get at the frightened, angry, explosive, yet utterly understandable boy who became a very troubled and very public man.

June 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The most remarkable revelation of the movie is its subject's thoughtful, reflective eloquence and unflinching self-perception...Tyson may or may not be entirely who he says he is, but he's probably not who we thought he was, either.

June 13, 2009 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Listening to Tyson tell his side of the story, you come to understand him with new depth and complexity.

June 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Some documentaries grow in the shadows; others demand to be made. The story of boxer Mike Tyson, powerfully recounted in a new film, is as rich as a Dickens novel.

June 11, 2009 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Something of a cliché.

May 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Turns out Mike Tyson, lo and behold, isn't that interesting after all. He's an unreliable narrator, sure, but mostly he's just a grotesque cartoon of every athlete who never had to answer for anything as long as they were making other people money.

June 22, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin

Toback presumably wants us to see Tyson as a product of his times, but we can't really buy that.

August 26, 2011 Full Review Source: East Bay Express
East Bay Express

Boxing fans will be thrilled by Toback's film, filled as it is with multi-camera angles and behind-the-scenes footage of some of the greatest fights in the sports history.

August 9, 2010 Full Review Source:

Whether or not the troubled Mike deserves our sympathy, is left up to the viewer.

February 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Toback's approach to Tyson pulls no punches. It is extraordinarily revealing.

October 19, 2009 Full Review Source:

Utterly absorbing and fascinating, Tyson captivates viewers for its 90 minutes.

August 30, 2009 Full Review Source: Washington Times
Washington Times

Until I saw Tyson, I wouldn't have believed it possible to film a one-sided documentary that felt truthful and complete."

August 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Tyson is indeed an intriguingly contradictory hulk, but he's far from the troubling Caliban Toback's own obsessions with athleticism and negritude make him out to be

August 25, 2009 Full Review Source: CinePassion

Tyson's dissection of his own struggles makes the film hard to turn away from. In that respect, Tyson is a lot like a train wreck. In fact, Tyson's life is like a train wreck in a lot of ways.

August 21, 2009 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune

You certainly hope that the humility Mike Tyson is showing these days is genuine and not just an act.

August 19, 2009 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City | Comments (2)
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Just relentless lisping monotonous speech that makes the prospect of entering the ring with Mike seem attractive if only because it will be over sooner.

August 9, 2009 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald | Comments (5)
Sydney Morning Herald

In the end this is an unflinching portrait of a man, honest and beguiling. It puts Tyson's sins into context, but never excuses him. In a way, it's also a very American story about success from nothing and the double-edged sword of money and fame.

August 7, 2009 Full Review Source: MovieTime, ABC Radio National
MovieTime, ABC Radio National

There is something compelling about the way he presents his version of the stories and scandals that surround him.

August 7, 2009 Full Review Source: The Age (Australia)
The Age (Australia)

In these interviews, there's a strange poetry to the way he talks about his life. I actually found it really moving.

August 5, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

He's amazingly frank about some of the people he doesn't like, and he breaks down when he talks about his friends and the people he loved. A surprisingly fine documentary.

August 5, 2009 Full Review Source: At the Movies (Australia)
At the Movies (Australia)

Tyson is presented via multiple split screen, with relentlessly frank and rhythmic sentences overlapping one another. The effect is mesmerising.

August 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine Australasia
Empire Magazine Australasia

Brutally honest, Tyson offers one perspective on the life of the boxer - his own. This intimate look is enough to carry the film through its fascinating portrait of the fallen hero.

August 4, 2009 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
FILMINK (Australia)

This doco goes a little way to portraying Tyson as more human than animal. Iron Mike even sheds a few tears.

August 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Courier Mail (Australia)
Courier Mail (Australia)

...if Tyson never manages to charm us, there are other times when he comes off as touchingly naive. He's uncommonly empathetic to those who might think him a monster. It seems he often sometimes thinks of himself the same way.

July 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Audience Reviews for Tyson

Don't like how it's told from Tyson's point of view. As usual, he can't take the blame for any of his convictions; it's always someone else's fault. I find his story interesting but the film forces us to feel sympathetic for someone who is a rapist and a criminal. I don't really care for him to be honest, and in fact think he's a big liar. Aside from Mike Tyson, the film is badly edited; the multiple frame transitions become distracting after awhile. Also, James Toback should of interviewed more people to get another perspective on Tyson.
August 21, 2012
Market Man
Eric Shankle

Super Reviewer

"Tyson" is a very interesting documentary. It's an inevitably exciting film (as Tyson always was in his career), stylishly showcasing many of Tyson's devastating fights while also sensitively exploring Mike's life before, during and after his career. Tyson, in his trademark frank fashion, reveals in a series of interviews how his rough childhood affected him, and how he discovered that violence was the only form of defence for a scared young boy in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Tyson elaborates on his brief life of crime before he was put in a borstal, where he was taken under legendary trainer Cus D'Amato's wing. Within years, Tyson had become an 18 year-old 218lb monster, a superb heavyweight contender.

The documentary shows his career highs, as well as his painful decline to rock bottom, with Tyson covering his disastrous marriage to Robin Givens, his rape charge (which he vehemently denies), and his controversial losses to Evander Holyfield. 'Tyson' gives a solid overview of his life, it is a taut documentary that is guaranteed to hold your attention through both recent interviews and archive footage. I can imagine some critics will criticise the film's depiction of its leading man. Indeed, the film portrays Mike sympathetically, but Tyson is a remarkably honest man, I know few other public figures of his stature who parallel his frank openness. While the grounds of his rape charge are dubious and open for contention, I feel he is genuine. Despite his past behaviour, Mike being the first to acknowledge it, you can't help but pity him, he has led a life of confusion and interference from his numerous demons.

Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Mike Tyson is truly unique and not what one expects. Which is why I advise anyone, particularly those who disregard Tyson, to watch this eye-opener, it won't necessarily change your opinion of the man, but surely you will be admiring his honesty.
June 12, 2011
Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins

Super Reviewer

In Tyson, James Toback sets up a camera, sits the ex-champ down on a couch and lets him talk. And cry. And boast. And self-examine. And, mostly, self-justify. Toback calls his subject "a figure of staggering complexity." Actually, he's a figure of rather sad simplicity, a frightened and fatherless boy who grew up brutalized and grew to brutalize other people. That the ring afforded him, for a while, a chance to do that legally made him his fortune -- most of which he went on to throw away. What's doubly tragic is that Tyson still can't understand his own downfall. He was convicted of rape in 1992 and spent three years in prison. On camera now, he angrily declares his innocence, calling his accuser "a wretched swine of a woman." His insistence soon rings a little hollow ("I may have taken advantage of women before, but I never took advantage of her.") When he talks about women -- "I want to ravish them," "I want to dominate them sexually" -- it's in the language of aggression, not affection. Yet Tyson still thinks he's a good guy -- more sinned against then sinning, brought down by "leeches." By only interviewing Tyson, Toback lets him get away with it, too. Do Tyson's ex-wives have anything pertinent to add? Does Evander Holyfield, perhaps, have a differing point of view? It's a good bet, but you won't find them here. Instead, you will find a grab bag of occasional split-screens and sometimes overlapping or echoing dialogue -- all of which does more to obscure than illuminate the self-deceiving subject. It's a long, sad slide show of a man who had everything and lost it. The saddest thing is that this great fighter still doesn't seem to realize that he was his own fiercest opponent. Some elements of Tyson's story are utterly fascinating -- sadly, none of it gets more than a glossed over explanation (surely Tyson's hands-on involvement with the film had a lot to do with that). In the end, this documentary doesn't come anywhere close to recognizing its potential.
April 8, 2010
Jonathan Hutchings

Super Reviewer

Well constructed, supremely edited documentary which gets as close to the enigma that is Tyson as one could hope. The fight scenes are electric but despite his candor you still get a very one-sided account of events.
November 29, 2009
Gordon A

Super Reviewer

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