Netflix’s Sports Drama film, Bruised, marks the directorial debut of actress Halle Berry. She plays a washed-out mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter who gets a chance to make her come back. But it’s not an easy ride, and the emotional dramas on the path keep you entertained. The film, written by Michelle Rosenfarb, had its premiere at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival.
‘Bruised’ Plot Summary
Jacqueline “Jackie” Justice, aka Pretty Bull (Halle Berry), competed in an MMA cage fight four years ago. She suffered an anxiety attack, and just after 30 seconds, Justice jumped out of the ring cage. After the embarrassing defeat, Justice walked away from her promising UFC career and never looked back.
Bruised begins with Jackie, who now works odd jobs and cleans toilets to support her livelihood. She lives with her alcoholic and abusive boyfriend/manager, Desi DeMarco (Adan Canto), in a run-down neighborhood. During a job in a white house, a teenage boy tries to film Jackie while she is changing. In her anger, she thrashes the kid and loses her job.
As Jackie returns to her apartment, Desi lashes out at her. To stop her former employee from pressing charges for assaulting her kid, Desi had to sell his 14-karat Golden Gloves pendant. Desi urges Jackie to unleash her anger in the ring, but she refuses to return.
One night, Desi takes Jackie to a basement brawl event where the owner recognizes Jackie from her UFC days. He provokes Jackie to fight against his underground champion, Werewolf. Jackie attempts to flee, but Werewolf attacks her and pulls her away in a fierce battle. An enraged Jackie defeats Werewolf and walks out.
Immaculate, an MMA league owner, approaches Jackie and informs her about his biggest female league, Invicta FC. Immaculate gets impressed by Jackie’s fierce moves and wants her to train under her top trainer, Bobbi Buddhakan Berroa. Jackie doesn’t commit, but as she returns home, a conflict awaits her. Jackie finds her mother, Angel, standing at her apartment door with Jackie’s son, Manny. Recently, her ex-husband got shot in a covert mission, and his only girlfriend sent Manny to live with Jackie. Angel tells her that Manny witnessed his father’s death and was gravely traumatized. He refuses to speak and talk.
The turn of events catches Jackie off guard. She decides to take Immaculate’s offer and get back to the ring to support Manny. While trying to become an ace fighter, Jackie hustles to become an able mother too.
Major Spoilers Ahead
Why Did Jackie Jump Off the Ring 4 Years Ago?
Bobbi Buddhakan Berroa had doubts about Jackie’s age. She closely observed her match, from which she ran away, and thus was quite skeptical about her. But Immaculate had blind trust in Jackie because he was impressed by her rage. He gave Jackie a second chance to make her come back.
Immaculate wanted Jackie to fight for the flyweight championship belt against a ruthless MMA fighter named Lucia “Lady Killer” Chavez. He knew Jackie needed money, and hence, to lure her to the cage, he offered 10 grand for showing up and 20 for winning. It was an unsanctioned fight. Jackie could have died during the match, yet she took the bait because she needed money to support Manny.
She trained hard under Buddhakan, and the two got emotionally attached. One day, Buddhakan brought a Pretty Bull t-shirt for Jackie, and in an emotional state, Jackie revealed her reason for jumping out of the cage four years ago.
Jackie revealed that it was her first fight after she left Manny with her father. As soon as she entered the cage, she saw his little face and got scared thinking about him. She ran away because she was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to see Manny again. Buddhakan noted that it was rage that carried Jackie to the ring, and she survived on it. But when she became a mother, Jackie’s rage turned inward and became her only weakness. Buddhakan inspired Jackie to turn her rage canon towards Lady Killer and win the match against her to give a better life to Manny.
Who Won the Invicta FC Flyweight Title?
The Lady Killer was a brutal beast who blew lethal kicks at her opponent. Buddhakan informed Jackie that she couldn’t match her in the attack. Hence, Jackie’s only chance to win the fight was to grapple with the Lady Killer and pin her to the ground. Buddhakan fell in love with Jackie, but when she proposed, Jackie refused to commit. Jackie said she wasn’t ready for a new relationship and her priority was her kid, Manny.
On January 24th, Jackie entered the cage ring with Lady Killer at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. After a fierce battle, both players managed to survive the five rounds. The game’s verdict was decided by the judge’s score. Coincidentally, both Jackie and Lady Killer secured the same score, i.e., 48-47. Hence, Lady Killer won the game by a split decision and held onto her Invicta FC Flyweight title. Even though Jackie Justice lost the match, she won the hearts of her audience and the $10,000 promised by Immaculate for simply showing up.
In the end, a bruised Buddhakan visited Jackie to congratulate her on surviving the ring. She intentionally harmed herself and didn’t show up at the match, to prove to Jackie that she didn’t need anyone to win the game. The talent, or the rage, whatever drove her, was inside her. She just had to trust herself.
‘Bruised’ Ending Explained
After the fight, Jackie visited Angel’s house to take back Manny. Jackie might have proved her mettle in the ring, but her test of being a good mother was still in progress. She promised Manny that she would become a capable mother and take care of him.
The two left Angel’s apartment towards an uncertain future. While walking on the street, Manny pointed at his untied shoelaces. As soon Jackie tied the laces, Manny finally broke his silence and thanked his mother. Manny’s voice filled Jackie’s heart with happiness and her eyes with fears. She won her son’s heart which was probably the most significant victory of her life.
Bruised is a 2021 Sports Drama film directed by debut director Halle Berry. It will be streaming on Netflix.