Is Bruised Based on a True Story? Is Jackie Justice a Real MMA Fighter?

Image Credit: John Baer /Netflix

‘Bruised’ is a sports drama that follows MMA fighter Jackie Justice as she struggles to come back after a devastating defeat that crushes her career. As she goes through a low point, her young son, estranged for many years, suddenly comes back into her life after going through a traumatic experience himself. As mother and son try to piece their lives back together and slowly learn about each other, Jackie attempts to take another shot at the title. But just how much of this inspiring story is based on true life? And is Jackie Justice a real MMA fighter? Let’s find out.

Is Bruised Based on a True Story?

No, ‘Bruised’ is not based on a true story. The film was written by Michelle Rosenfarb, with director and lead actor Halle Berry modifying the script to encompass a central character that is a middle-aged Black single mother (as opposed to the original twenty-something Irish Catholic girl). Berry pitched the character changes and modifications to the story and the film’s tone to the producers, who subsequently agreed to support her vision.

When she first received the script in 2017, the actor-director loved the story and its fractured protagonist, who perseveres and embarks on a journey of redemption. However, in its current form, the script wasn’t the best fit, and Berry realized that making the central character a middle-aged Black woman would put an interesting spin on an “old genre” (of fight films). Once the producers were on-board, and the script was being reworked by writers and herself, the star began to search for the right director to bring her vision to life.

However, that proved harder than expected, and after an expansive search, and on the advice of her friend and producing partner, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Berry took on the daunting task herself. Considering the mammoth effort she had put into the character, the last thing she wanted was for it to all be for naught because of a director who didn’t see it as she did. Thus, the story of ‘Bruised’ originated from a fictional script about a young MMA fighter and was subsequently modified to fit a narrative that Berry identified with. Now let’s take a look at how she shaped her gritty character and whether she based it on a real MMA fighter.

Is Jackie Justice a Real MMA Fighter?

No, Jackie Justice is not a real MMA fighter but a fictional persona essayed by Halle Berry, who spent considerable effort crafting the talented but disgraced character. Apart from the obvious changes made so the character would fit her, Berry also took inspiration from her own struggles and “fights” to imbibe Jackie Justice with authentic gritty emotions.

Image Credit: TIFF

Speaking about how she related to the character, the Oscar-winning actor explained, “I understand being marginalized as a Black woman and the anger, resentment, fear, and frustration that comes with all of that. If I could put all of that into this movie, all the things that I know so well, then I knew I could create a character that will not only be real but will resonate with women of different races, too.”

In addition to the wealth of personal experiences and emotion that she imbibed into her character, Berry spent about eight months doing intensive martial arts training to prepare for her role. Her schedule included sessions of four to six hours a day where she practiced boxing, Muay Thai, judo, jujitsu, and capoeira. She also suffered from broken ribs during the filming of a fight scene for the film.

Thus, despite the central character of Jackie Justice not being based on a real MMA fighter, the film’s lead actor-director brings a lot of her own experiences into the narrative. Berry’s real-life “fight,” though different from the one faced by her character, imbibes the latter with an authentic sense of struggle and perseverance. ‘Bruised’ and its central character may be fictional, but their metaphorical message is based on real-life struggles, making the story feel authentic and inspiring.

Read More: Bruised Ending, Explained: Who Wins the Fight?