Submitted by Julio M
The re-encounter with friend and former band member Jackie (Vanessa Bell Calloway) gives Tina (Angela Bassett) the boost of self-confidence she was so severely lacking in her life, due to all the physical and sexual abuse Ike (Laurence Fishburne) had submitted her to, throughout their marriage. Tina starts following Lotus-Sutra Buddhism and chanting the “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo”; as a result, she starts rejecting Ike and being assertive of him to the point that, during a trip where she’d be performing, Ike tries to assault her and she finally gets the upper hand and fights back, which leaves them both badly bruised.
Later that same night, while Ike is taking a nap, Tina musters the courage to leave him and runs off, winding up at a motel across the highway, where the surprised staff, upon recognizing her, take pity on the beat-up state she was and embrace her as a guest.
Eventually, in 1980, Ike and Tina divorce; Tina is willing to walk away completely empty-handed if, in return, she can keep the stage name, to which the Judge agrees. She keeps custody of most of the kids -except for Ike Jr. (Richard T. Jones)- and feels inspired to restart her career as a solo. Her big break happens when she meets Roger Davies (James Reyne), who launches her into what eventually would be international stardom. Ike, in turn, tries to win her back, first by sweet-talking and, then, with violent threats. Ike Jr. ends showing up at Tina’s doorstep, badly beaten, claiming that “Dad is talking crazy about killing you if you don’t go back to him”.
The night of her first major concert, Ike shows up at Tina’s dressing room, carrying a gun, trying to coerce her into returning to him. Yet, she remains defiant and dares him to “do whatever it is he wants to do to her”, because she only cares about the people who came to see HER (she emphasizes) sing. This deters him and makes him back off. And when he sees her gleefully and energetically performing her first big hit “What’s Love Got To Do With It” in front of a massive, cheering crowd, he acknowledges his defeat and walks away from her life, forever.
Title cards indicate that (up to the movie’s release), Ike served time in jail on drug-related charges and Tina went on to become a worldwide superstar, with record-breaking concerts everywhere.