I just viewed Netflix’s virtual advanced screening of Halle Berry’s directorial debut, Bruised, that I was invited to by the Urban Action Showcase & Expo anddd… I’m here for it. I watched it without bias or prejudgment and allowed the film to take me on the journey with Jackie Justice, the MMA fighter portrayed by Halle Berry. The synopsis of the film is a disgraced fighter finds redemption in the cage and the courage to face her demons when the son she had given up as an infant unexpectedly reenters her life.
First of all, Halle Berry is 55. FIFTY-FIVE. On November 8th of 2019, she posted her amazing rock-hard abs on Instagram that she achieved while training for the film. In the film, she is standing next to women half her age and was giving them a run for their money even during her disheveled scenes. Outside of her aesthetic, Berry did amazing with the fight choreography. In her post-screening Q&A with H.E.R., who wrote and sings the film’s anthem, Berry stated that she was given a script that was originally intended for an Irish-Catholic white woman. In her head, she rearranged the role for a Black woman who has been beaten up by life and had to find her way through. She was tasked with finding a director but ultimately opted to take on the role herself when no one could bring to life what she saw because it only existed in her head. With this freedom, she was able to capture the intensity of her fight scenes as she dreamed because she was also executing them WITHOUT a stunt or body double. Berry trained in various martial arts styles for over 2 years to make her role as authentic as she could.
The film also comes equipped with a great supporting cast. Stephen McKinley Henderson is Pops, the inspirational “old head” who remembers who Jackie was and sees who she can be. Sheila Atim is Bobbi Buddhakan Berroa, Jackie’s elite trainer and mental sanity. Adriane Lenox is Angel, Jackie’s mom with the hella ironic name. Then there is Danny Boyd Jr. as Manny Lyons Jr., Jackie’s son who reenters her life and stole our hearts as viewers.
The Not So Good
I fully expect this movie to be ripped apart. We’re in a day and age where everything Black people touch is scrutinized under a microscope. There are definitely some cringy and eye-raising moments that will probably need to be explored in post-release interviews. I’ll leave those up to your interpretation, but I will say that the script felt like a lot of stories that needed to be fleshed out more. We received the gist of Jackie’s origin (some of it was even predictable), but there was room left to round out how she spiraled into the Jackie we were presented with.
The was also a scene where Jackie should’ve cracked someone in the face and didn’t but I guess her leaving was sufficient (eye-roll).
Earlier I mentioned Danny Boyd Jr portraying Jackie’s son, 6-year-old Manny Lyons Jr. Danny should be about 11 now which should’ve placed him between 7 and 9, if the math is mathing, when he was filming. This young king’s facial acting tugged at all of our heartstrings. He had to play a traumatized boy inside a range of emotions from scared to angry and all I wanted to do was protect him. I was ready to fight errybody. Throughout all of the storylines, I just kept wondering how whatever was currently happening was going to inevitably affect Manny. He drew me in. He understood his assignment. Mission Accomplished.
Will You Watch Bruised?
I think you should. Bruised is directed and led by a Black woman. Check. It has a predominantly Black cast that shows a range of Black lifestyles. Check. The soundtrack is all women artists. Check. It has literally kick-ass fight choreo with women who are powerfully strong (no bad running scenes or terrible punches, praise whoever you pray to). Check.
Bruised releases on Netflix on November 24th.