Halle Berry has played iconic roles and shined on the screen, from Storm in X-Men to Sofia in John Wick: Parabellum. For Bruised we see her as a fallen from grace MMA fighter, Jackie Justice, and this time the actress is also in the director’s seat.

The movie’s premise feels kind of familiar because it’s one we have seen before in other films with different scenarios. Halle Berry’s character was respected and famous in the mixed martial arts world, until she loses a fight and finds herself trying to get back to her glory days while also fighting to get custody of her son. Whilst simultaneously trying anything in order to gain her son’s love and trust and training to get herself back in shape, Jackie tries to also regain balance of her mental health.

One can see just how dedicated Halle is to the physical demands of this role, something she publicly showed on her Instagram account. Her commitment to working out makes the path of her character more believable here, with amazing fight scenes that are quite intense and will make you suffer alongside Jackie. One of the weakest elements of the film is its script. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t do anything big or different either.

BRUISED (2021); L to R, SHEILA ATIM as BOBBI ‘BUDDDHAKAN’ BERROA, HALLE BERRY as JACKIE JUSTICE, SHAMIER ANDERSON as IMMACULATE, and VALENTINA SCHEVCHENKO as LADY KILLER

Bruised is not a revolutionary film and for some could also seem a little slow. It takes time to establish the relationships between this group of flawed people, of who Jackie is the centrepiece. Her mother (Adriane Lenox), Bobbi Buddhakan (Sheila Atim) and her son Manny (Danny Boyd Jr.) all act as necessary characters in this story about overcoming life obstacles and personal evolution and every actor brings their best, allowing you to establish genuine connections with them.

It’s also great to see LGBTQ+ representation that doesn’t feel forced or out of place. The film plays out very naturally, but, as mentioned previously, it is a slow burn of a story that leads you to the climax. As Halle’s first outing as director, this is a good first step and she can be proud of it. It’s going to be interesting to see where her directing career goes from here.

Rating: ★★★

Director: Halle Berry

Writer: Michelle Rosenfarb

Cast: Halle Berry, Adan Canto, Sheila Atim, Adriane Lenox