Halle Berry makes her directorial debut with Bruised, a sports drama that packs a mighty punch yet stumbles a little when it comes to finding its own voice amidst a crowded market of films about ageing fighters seeking redemption. It's a film we've seen plenty of times before but there's enough here to show Berry has a future behind the camera.

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 the 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 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. A triumphant story of a fighter who reclaims her power, in and out of the ring, when everyone has counted her out.
Bruised is a valiant directorial debut from Halle Berry, a redemptive tale set within the world of MMA that focuses on a woman who disgraced herself in the sport and now finds herself struggling to look after her son, all while getting back in the game by training for another shot at stardom in MMA.

As mentioned before, there's not much to Bruised that feels original but Berry does a great job in delivering an emotional and compelling journey for her main character. The writing is a little wafer thin in places as some scenes feel undercooked but the film already clocks in at over two hours so there's definitely some scenes that could have been shortened and others prolonged a bit.

The fight and training sequences are both brutal and exhausting, as they probably would be to be put through, and Halle Berry delivers a performance fully committed to the physicality of it all. Berry has always felt like a massively underrated actor and it's great to see her sink her teeth into a real character study and proving to people she is still a force to be reckoned with in front of the camera.

So make sure to check out Bruised on Netflix this week and I hope that this is the start of a comeback for Halle Berry to star in worthwhile leading roles again.

Verdict: ★★★


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