By Lynn Venhaus

“Bruised” is a cliché-riddled and formulaic sports story that strives to be a “Million Dollar Baby” or “The Wrestler,” but pales in comparison, offering little inspiration and few reasons to care.

Halle Berry took over acting and directing duties as the story switched from a troubled white Irish Catholic woman to a down-and-out middle-aged black fighter, but she doesn’t bring anything new to the genre. She plays a thoroughly unpleasant person who has consistently made bad choices and it is an uphill battle to convince us that this time she is really going to get her life together.

Of course, that is why everyone has counted her out. She has fallen into the gutter on the inner-city streets of Newark, N.J.

Berry won an Oscar nearly 20 years ago for her searing performance as grieving mother Letitia in “Monster’s Ball” and had been on a hot streak, wowing in her Emmy-winning title role in “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” in 1999. Unfortunately, despite high-profile roles in James Bond’s “Die Another Day,” as Storm in “X-Men” and as DC villainess Catwoman, she has not given another performance remotely close to her Oscar winner since then.

“Bruised” is the kind of gritty, unglamorous role that actresses find irresistible – and to her credit, she met the physical challenge with a ferocity and is believable in fight scenes, although those are poorly choreographed.

In a movie that wastes considerable time, first-time feature screenwriter Michelle Rosenfarb has piled on the melodramatic misery with every possible stereotypical character in tired, predictable situations.

The quick-tempered Jackie, fueled by rage and regret, is a substance abuser, absentee mom, horrible girlfriend, bad daughter, unstable nanny and unsympathetic female who has frittered away opportunities to do better in life.

She boozes and brawls with abusive alcoholic boyfriend-manager Desi (Adan Canto), and gets little sympathy about her life choices and predicaments from her pill-popping mother Angel (Adriane Lenox). Their difficult relationship mostly consists of shouting matches. Oh, and her 6-year-old son is mute from trauma.

So, naturally, her fighting spirit resumes when Manny shows up –using a cute kid for the 800th time in a movie to propel the heavy-handed action. Although Danny Boyd Jr. is adorable, his unfortunate character gets stuck with this hot mess because there is no alternative after the sudden death of his father. It’s practically child abuse watching her screw up so many times – but wait for it – she learns how to be a Mom.

Though, taking the kid to the movies and eating popcorn while music plays does not smooth over what she has put him through — except to soften the story. To wrap up 2 hours and 9 minutes of a mostly bleak and brutal narrative with a gooey-sticky sweet ending is ridiculous but expected.

Those who enjoy Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts may find “Bruised” passable, especially with UFC Women’s Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko playing Lady Killer, whom Jackie faces in the Octagon in the final showdown.

But it would have helped for the writer to create characters that we haven’t seen many times before. For instance, Shamier Anderson plays Immaculate, a fight league promoter, who recruits Jackie, and the grueling training begins. Her shape-up team includes Sheila Atim as Bobbi “Buddhakan” Berroa, a tough instructor with a Zen-like approach and veteran character actor Stephen McKinley Henderson as a grizzled trainer named Pops.

Despite what it might look like on the surface, this raw underdog story is not the comeback vehicle Berry fans might have hoped for – and leaves viewers feeling pummeled.

“Bruised” is a tough film to watch, let alone like.

“Bruised” is a 2020 sports drama directed and starring Halle Berry. It also stars Danny Boyd Jr., Adriane Lenox, Adan Canto, Sheila Atim, Shamier Anderson and Bobbi Berroa. It is rated R for pervasive language, some sexual content/nudity and violence and has a run time of 2 hours, 9 minutes. Lynn’s Grade: D. It is in selected theaters Nov. 19 and streaming on Netflix beginning Nov. 24.

Presented by the Critics Choice Association on Monday, December 6 in Los Angeles

The Critics Choice Association announced today select honorees for the annual Celebration of Black Cinema & Television, taking place on Monday, December 6 at the newly reimagined Fairmont Century Plaza Hotel. Since 2014, the Celebration of Black Cinema has honored standout achievements in Black filmmaking; this year, for the first time, the awards ceremony will also celebrate achievements in television. The event will feature 20 award categories (10 from film and 10 from television). A full list of honorees and presenters will be announced in the coming weeks.

Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry will receive the “Career Achievement” Award as a tribute to her extraordinary roles over the years, as well as her highly anticipated directorial debut in her new film in which she also stars as the disgraced MMA fighter Jackie Justice in Netflix’s Bruised, which will release in select theaters on November 17 and globally on Netflix November 24, 2021. Berry’s career has spanned three decades, including performances in Die Another Day, Jungle Fever, Losing Isaiah, Bulworth, Swordfish, John Wick, and as legendary actress Dorothy Dandridge. She’s the first and only Black woman to win the Oscar for “Actress in a Leading Role” for her performance in Monster’s Ball in 2002.

“Berry’s iconic performances throughout her career have showcased her brilliance as an actor and blazed the trail for Black performers who have come after her. She has become the personification of excellence as she transcends from being in front of the camera to sitting in the director’s chair,” said Shawn Edwards, CCA Board Member and Executive Producer of the Celebration of Black Cinema & Television.

Emmy nominated Anthony Andersonwill receive the Producer Award for Television for his celebrated work on the critically acclaimed ABC series’ black-ish, grown-ish and mixed-ish. Anderson, who serves as an executive producer on all three series, has become a major force in Hollywood in front of and behind the camera.

Academy Award-winner Jennifer Hudson will be honored with the Actress Award for Film for her outstanding performance in the Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect. Hudson’s unique combination of singing and acting, perfectly captured the essence of the ‘Queen of Soul.’

Academy Award-winner Barry Jenkinswill receive the Director Award for Television for his critically acclaimed Amazon series The Underground Railroad, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Colson Whitehead. The series was a transformative work of art that explored the perilous journey of an enslaved woman, Cora Randall, during her desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South as she hopes to realize a life she never thought possible.

“2021 was an incredible year of creativity and growth in film and television, and we’re thrilled to be able to honor the changemakers who are making a difference,” said Critics Choice Association CEO, Joey Berlin. “Jennifer both starred in and executive produced Respect, giving the performance of a lifetime. Barry transformed the small screen with his innovative and thought-provoking series, The Underground Railroad which he wrote, executive produced and directed, and Anthony has become one of the most prolific and admired producers on television with black-ish, grown-ish, and mixed-ish,” Berlin added.

All Celebration of Black Cinema & Television honorees will be introduced by a prestigious group of presenters who will celebrate their work and their ongoing commitment to telling Black stories.

A portion of the proceeds will be designated to provide scholarships to students from underrepresented communities participating in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Gold Rising Program. The Academy Gold Rising Program is an industry talent development, diversity and inclusion initiative that provides individuals access and resources to achieve their career pathways in filmmaking.

The Celebration of Black Cinema & Television will be produced by Madelyn Hammond and Javier Infante of Madelyn Hammond & Associates and Swisher Productions, an event production agency specializing in live events.

About the Critics Choice Association (CCA) 

The Critics Choice Association is the largest critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing almost 500 media critics and entertainment journalists. It was established in 2019 with the formal merger of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, recognizing the intersection between film, television, and streaming content. For more information, visit: