Jackie Justice (Halle Berry) is a mixed martial arts fighter who leaves the sport in disgrace. Down on her luck and simmering with rage and regret years after her fight, she’s coaxed into a brutal underground fight by her manager and boyfriend Desi (Adan Canto) and grabs the attention of a fight league promoter (Shamier Anderson) who promises Jackie a life back in the Octagon. But the road to redemption becomes unexpectedly personal when Manny (Danny Boyd, Jr.) — the son she gave up as an infant — shows up at her doorstep.

We are all affected by negative experiences. Whether the effect is detrimental or not doesn’t matter as much as how you respond to it moving forward. Because moving forward is what you want to do. You can’t allow a situation to stop your life from progressing because the world will move on without you. You’re allowed to take a pause, in fact, we all need a pause every once in a while for our mental health. Nevertheless, you have to find the strength to take what has happened, analyze it, learn from it, find some sort of silver lining, and keep it pushing. Depending on the circumstances, it’s easier said than done, however, you’re capable of anything if you allow yourself to be great. 

“Big protects Little.”

Over the past decade or so, there’s been an increase in the legends we have grown to revere taking the reigns behind the camera as well as in front. Now, there is another acting great to add to that list with the new Netflix film, Bruised. Also starring in the film, Halle berry’s directorial debut is an emotional knockout. Bruised is an intense story of overcoming trauma, facing your past, and reclaiming your future. While the film may resemble other combat sports-type stories, there’s a grittiness and tone that separates this one from the rest. Full of characters, an inner-city, and a sports world that many may not be fully familiar with, this is a story that knows itself and speaks a specific language. Nevertheless, its specificity makes the black and blue tale universal. This film is for those who have or are trying to right the ship. It’s for the people who fell victim to fear but is ready to stand toe to toe against it. It’s for anyone who is tired of being the punching bag and is ready to swing back. And also, for anyone who wants to see the mental and physical strength of a determined woman. The story is a bit dark, but certain aspects of it are a very real reality for many people. When it comes to the action, the stakes feel very high and the punches, very real.

Featuring well-known and highly skilled MMA fighters, Gabi Garcia and Valentina “Bullet” Schevchenko, fight fans are in for a treat. The fight choreography looked great with only one moment where I felt there was an editing mistake. There are some great performances by the silent but expressive Danny Boyd Jr., the swaggy and zen-like Sheila Atim, and of course, Ms. Berry herself. The film’s somber atmosphere locks you in, allowing you to fully feel the brunt of this human experience. There’s also an unexpected romance that probably could’ve been explored more but made for an interesting third act. Unfortunately, with the release of the film being during Thanksgiving week, it may not receive an initial surge in clicks because it’s not necessarily a film you would gather the family to watch. Nonetheless, it is a film worth watching. I enjoyed the emotionally turbulent ride that Bruised took me on and the all-female hip-hop soundtrack cultivated with the help of Cardi B. Its rewatchability is medium.


Pacing & Pop

The film is by no means a slow burn, however, the film does allow you to live in each difficult moment and heartbreaking decision. What popped for me was the action. The fights are abundantly more brutal than I expected. Not to mention, the sound of the punches makes each brawl feel immersive and sets it apart from some of its counterparts.


Characters & Chemistry

Starring: Halle Berry (Jackie Justice), Adan Canto (Desi), Sheila Atim (Buddhakan), Adriane Lenox (Angel), Valentina Shevchenko (Lady Killer), Nikolai Nikolaef (Igor), introducing Danny Boyd, Jr. (Manny), with Shamier Anderson (Immaculate), and Stephen McKinley Henderson (Pops).

This film was cast very well. Halle Berry never fails to impress and as Jackie Justice, she does it once again. There is a complex emotional depth to Jackie Justice that Berry tackles very well. She also looked great handling herself as a fighter. Sheila Atim as Buddhakan added a subtle flare and tons of wisdom to the story. She’s effortlessly the coolest person in the film. And with only a few spoken words, Danny Boyd Jr. steals the show as Manny. His actions and mannerism do all the talking and he has a lot to say.

Bruised was released in select theaters on November 17, 2021, and will stream on Netflix on November 24, 2021. Stay safe and keep your hands up.


Director: Halle Berry

Writer: Michelle Rosenfarb

Producers: Basil Iwanyk, Brad Feinstein, Guymon Casady, Linda Gottlieb, Halle Berry, Gillian G. Hormel, Erica Lee, Paris Kassidokosta-Latsis, Terry Douglas

Executive Producers: Joseph F. Ingrassia, Jonathan Fuhrman, Chad Stahelski, Jean-Luc De Fanti, Mary Aloe, Anik Decoste, Brian Pitt, Christina Lurie, David Gendron, Ali Jazayeri, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross

Director of Photography: Frank G. DeMarco, ASC

Composer: Aska Matsumiya

Rated: R

Runtime: 2h 9m

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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