In a world where one- time UFC sensation, Jackie Justice, played by Halle Berry, has hit rock bottom. Her world is turned upside down when she finds her estranged son on her doorstep. Halle Berry not only stars in Netflix “Bruised”, but she also gets to log this effort on her resume as her directorial debut! It’s been reported that her efforts have gotten her a deal with Netflix to direct other features but is “Bruised” really that good? Let’s break down the movie in a quick review to find out!
Fun Facts- Halle Berry is literally transformative in role as a fighter in the UFC. We can tell she put in a lot of work to get ring ready. The MMA sequences look pretty good and Halle Berry’s work makes the character believable. Halle Berry is able to effortlessly perform a sequence of holds and submission techniques giving the character Jackie Justice some grounded authenticity. Her authenticity did not end when she left the ring but instead continued with her acting as a person who does not know how to take care of herself but must figure out how to be a mother in the worst of conditions. As great as Halle is in “Bruised”, the standout in this film is Sheila Atim, as Jackie Justice trainer, Buddhakan. She is incredibly believable as a calming foundation for a troubled Jackie Justice. Atim’s ability really shines during conversations she has with Halle’s “Jackie Justice ” while attempting to guide the once troubled UFC star find her way back to a life worth living.
Hard Truth- There are a couple of aspects of the fight/redemption genre that are essential to the success of these types of movies. The first is how good are the action/fighting sequences? “Bruised” does okay in this department. The fighting looks competent but it’s nothing that really gets you out of your seat. Recently we had the great “Creed” films and in the past, “Warrior” that keeps viewers talking about those great action beats for years. Another aspect is the training montage, which this movie does but it’s not particularly memorable. A great training montage will compel you to want to watch it again but this movie’s choice in music during the montage does not help amplify the scene to help the moment standout. The last aspect is the characters fighting for redemption. There is always that one moment where they finally get over the hill and normally it’s with the help of the other characters that helped them along the way. This movie makes a weird narrative choice that places characters in that “redemption” moment that did not earn that spot throughout the course of the movie, leaving that pivotal moment as flat as the earth on a map instead of being the uplifting moment Halle Berry hoped she was giving to the audience.
Truth Bomb-if I’m being Honest, Netflix “Bruised” gets a spark. Halle Berry looked competent as a mma fighter. It’s fair to say she took training for this role seriously and the movie was better for it. Her physicality in the ring, along with her acting as a damaged individual who thinks she wants to be left alone but finds out she needs and deserves more out of life is deserving of praise. Halle Berry’s co-star Sheila Atim is engaging and is the best part of this movie, she is cast for more roles based on her performance. Regretfully where this movie has a hard time is with the script. It goes off on a tangent that the movie does not set up particularly well, leaving the movie hanging in the end.