The most remarkable thing about the new 8-part Hulu series “Mike” is how dead-on accurate the actor who plays Mike Tyson, Trevante Rhodes, is in this role. Rhodes mirrored Tyson’s speaking style, his mannerisms, physique, even his hand movements while he talks. This performance is so good, it should receive an Emmy award nomination.
This entire 8-part series follows the entire life of Mike Tyson, using flashbacks to show Mike Tyson’s performances for the Broadway play, “Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth”, produced and directed by Spike Lee play, released in 2012. When this play was released in 2012, I was most impressed that any former boxer could stand in front of an audience and give a 2-hour speech in front of a large audience. It is one thing to perform in front of many people when boxing and another thing to travel around the country and perform in a one-man play.
The story of Mike Tyson’s life is an extremely tragic one. He had no father, he was constantly bullied by the criminal element during his childhood and he and his mother traveled to different abandoned buildings in Brooklyn just to find shelter, for most of his childhood. By a series of extremely unlikely events after being arrested over 20 times, Mike Tyson found himself being trained by one of the best boxing trainers in the world, Cus D’Amato. Were it not for Cus D’Amato not only training Tyson but even adopting him, Mike Tyson would never rose to the top of the boxing world as the youngest world champion. When D’Amato died in 1985, understandably, Tyson started a downward spiral that included marrying the wrong woman, Robin Givens, massive spending, drug use and unfortunately suffering his first loss as a boxer to Buster Douglas in 1990. All of this was self-destructive behavior due to the combination of the loss of D’Amato who meant everything to him and the fact that Tyson always hated himself and deep down never thought he was deserving of so much money and Worldwide fame.
Much of this is hard to watch, especially the part when Tyson spent 3 years in jail for the rape of Desiree Washington played very well by Li Eubanks. Unfortunately for Mike Tyson himself, this series does not paint a good picture to support his version of events that led to his 3 years in jail.
The biting of Evander Holyfield’s ear is also a major part of this well-told story and from Mike Tyson’s perspective Holyfield’s head butting into Tyson’s face in both fights (not clear whether this was intentional or by accident) does give some support to Tyson flying into a rage during the second fight. The comment Tyson made during the fight, “if he is going to fight dirty, then I am going to fight dirty” is an important moment in this series. Very clearly, the referees did a horrible job controlling Holyfield’s head butting, that should have included disqualifying him. Instead, Holyfield did not even lose points for the rounds where he headbutted Tyson, that in the first fight resulted Tyson almost knocked out in the second round. None of this is an excuse for what Tyson did, but if the referees did their jobs correctly, then Tyson would not have gone crazy from desperation.
I thought this series was extremely well produced and acted and once again I am not surprised that the critics are so wrong on Rotten Tomatoes, giving this very impressive series only a 42% rating. My rating is a solid 85% and a strong recommendation.