Halle Berry’s directorial debut, Bruised, is coming to Netflix in November. It’s a film about a washed-up MMA fighter working her way back to the top while also trying to reconnect with her estranged son. The trailer is appropriately intense, if a little cliched. All the fight movie standards are here, from the protagonist staring at their battered face in the mirror, to a Shower Contemplation, to one trainer saying, “I don’t think you’ve got it anymore,” while another says, “Welcome back.” There’s a reason Heidi Gardner is able to lampoon boxing movie cliches so perfectly, and it’s because the boxing movie is a pretty narrow sub-genre with a limited number of tropes. But once you accept that every boxing movie, including its cousin the MMA movie, is going to be basically the same blueprint, you can find variations on themes that make the films effective in and of themselves.
Bruised certainly looks great, in that it looks grimy and lo-fi and stark, an aesthetic that works for a harsh comeback in a brutal sport. Berry stars in the film—this was originally supposed to be Blake Lively, directed by Nick Cassavetes—as Jackie Justice (a GREAT fake name if you’re ever on the lam), a former MMA fighter who, it appears, retired after a humiliating defeat. Now, she’s clawing her way back to legitimate fights after having her estranged six-year-old son thrust upon her. I’m way more interested in the family drama than the fight drama, but the trailer is leaning hard on the fight drama. I guess they feel that’s the hook, but the popularity of Maid on Netflix right now suggests people are here for dramas about women caught in the poverty cycle—Squid Game also points to an appetite for individual vs. the system stories. But MMA is such an internationally popular sport, the Netflix marketing department must feel that’s the global hook and not, you know, the economic oppression of the masses, even though movies and shows about that economic oppression keep becoming hits. Food for thought, Netflix marketing!
Attached- Halle out in LA the other day.