SOUTHPAW [2015]

Originally written for:

SALTYLOGO6

southpaw_poster_200515_2047x1365

Directed by Antoine Fuqua, Written by Kurt Sutter

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence, Forest Whitaker, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson

Jake Gyllenhaal, along with Tom Hardy, must be one of the most dependable young actors around at the moment. His rather disturbing turn in Nightcrawler surprised a lot of people, though personally I have been a fan of his for a long time, going back to his performance in the mind-bending teen drama Donnie Darko. Here he tackles a more physical role in Southpaw, a film about a boxer who is suddenly down on his luck. Does it avoid the clichés? Can it distance itself from the Rocky films?

Unfortunately it does suffer somewhat from a very predictable story, as well as a modern equivalent of a training montage. The action within the film isn’t predictable, but the ending is and it can be seen from miles away. This doesn’t ruin the film however, as it does have a lot of positive elements to offer. It is far from a modern Rocky movie, despite sharing some similar moments. This is because it has much more to offer than just a simplistic boxer’s story.

southpaw

Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) starts off as an arrogant fighter, using his anger to push himself towards victories and a perfect record. It is this arrogance and anger that indirectly leads to the family tragedy that throws him off course, and it is also this attitude that causes him to lose his daughter to family protection services. As his wife predicted, as soon as he loses a fight, most of his entourage leaves him, leaving him alone and depressed. In fact, they don’t just leave him, they quickly change corners and begin working with another fighter.

After his fall from grace, Billy turns to ex-fighter come trainer Tick (Forrest Whitacker), who is hesitant to train him. His gym isn’t pretty, and is mostly the home for troubled young people for him to shape into real men. He doesn’t train pro-fighters, and is wary of Billy’s past attitude towards fighting and life in general. At first Billy is mopping the floors of the gym, until Tick decides to accept Billy as a fighter and trains him in the only way he knows how: using mind over matter to achieve success. He accurately points out that boxing is like a chess match, and fighting with anger is only going to hurt him when he is fighting against the best. Have dabbled in boxing myself, I can assert that the way Tick trains Billy is extremely well done and is technically sound, while also being great to watch, at least for a fight fan like myself.

southpaw-gyllenhaal-and-whitaker-720x405

The filmmakers obviously worked with some knowledgeable boxing trainers/fighters, as the fight scenes are terrific. They are brutal, they look realistic, save for one or two moments, and they are bloody. Very bloody. Using a real boxing announcer was a nice touch too. I found myself leaning forward, immersed in each fight as they are for the most part shot very well. The choreography here is excellent.

Gyllenhaal himself obviously worked with some great boxing coaches behind the scenes, as after he turns to Tick for training, his technique changes completely, changing from the anger-fueled fighter of the past to one who is more technically sound. I was very impressed with his performance in the second half of the film, after Tick has trained him, as you could almost mistake him for a pro boxer; chin tucked down, using his shoulders for protection. Jake’s physical transformation for this role is also quite something to behold; something like 2,000 sit-ups a day I read somewhere!! And it certainly shows:

3044397-poster-p-1-the-southpaw-trailer-hits-you-with-a-ridiculously-cut-jake-gyllenhaal-and-new-eminem-music

One thing this flick does really well is that it shows the emotion that is behind the sport of boxing, and how the violence of the sport can affect loved ones. His wife tries to tell him that he can’t keep fighting the way he does, as we see her struggle to watch him go blow for blow in the first fight of the film. His daughter isn’t allowed to watch him fight, but after being taken away from him, she matures and during the last fight of the film, we see the flood of conflicting emotions wash over her as she watches her father fight. Southpaw has a big heart, which is easily its biggest asset.

We are introduced to the brawler Billy Hope at his victorious Madison Square Garden fight against Darius Jones. Billy's wife Maureen, his promoter Jordan and his pal Jon Jon cheer him on. Beau Flynn (Jon Jon), RM, CJ

However, in addition to the predictability and the cliched moments, this film still has its fair share of flaws. The most noticeable one being the script, which isn’t anything to yell about and apart from a few choice scenes, it is rather weak. Some of the acting also suffers; I don’t know why the filmmakers chose to cast “50 Cent” as a pivotal character in the movie. His obvious lack of experience in front of a camera shows and his performance is laughable. This is especially noticeable given Jake and Forrest turn in great performances opposite him. Rappers don’t make for good actors, I don’t give a toss how famous they are. Hell I don’t even think his music is any good.

While it is far from a perfect film, Southpaw hits hard both in the ring and emotionally. Even though I was pretty sure I knew what was coming next at most points, I was thoroughly immersed for the duration and would happily watch it again.

3-and-a-Half-Pops

38 Comments on “SOUTHPAW [2015]

  1. You know, I just may have to break down and buy a ticket for this before it leaves local theaters. I’m really, really curious to see Gyllenhaal in this kind of a role, a physical one as you point out. I guess his Lou Bloom had a physical component to it as well but this is something else. I also am an unapologetic lover of boxing films. Don’t know why, they’re all pretty much the same but always so watchable. Good work Jordan

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d highly recommend you check this out if you like boxing movies. The fight scenes for the most part are great, and it is very cool to see Jake bobbing and weaving, using proper technique… its not the best film but its a bloody entertaining watch!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I’m glad someone said it! That’s what I would have guessed this to be — not particularly memorable but entertaining enough in its own right that its worth the watch. Thanks for the words of encouragement d00d

        Liked by 1 person

      • Of course you’ll get my agreement there!
        Sean really thought the boxing bits were spectacularly done, but he was really bothered by Jake obviously being right-hand dominant when a southpaw is supposed to be a leftie!
        I don’t notice these thigns, so I could just enjoy the action.
        Everything outside the ring was a bit too cliched, but the acting was good and I think that saved it for me.

        Like

  2. I was initially very keen on seeing this as I’m curious how Jake G would fare in a role originally written for Eminem. But I’m not good w/ bloody scenes and given the brutality of the fight scenes, I don’t think I can handle seeing that on the big screen. You seem to like this more than critics Jordan, so I still might give it a rent to see the performances.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well put, Jordan. I really loved Gyllenhaal in this too and the boxing scenes were superbly excecuted. I also think Forest Whitaker was very good in this, Im a big fan of his.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Despite how cliched and predictable this was I still really enjoyed it. One of my favourites this year so far!

    Like

    • Wow, four! I wish I had started that early!! And I’m also interested in those things, these sports are fare more tactical than many people realise I think

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

500 CRAPPY WORDS A DAY!

imperfection is perfection

ZeroTolerance to Negative Vibes

Barber life, struggle, life

Abidings

Savior dwelling with us

The No Spoiler Critic

Reviews, predictions & rants from the mind of Jason Singer with no plot points given away...ever.

The Cinematic Explorer

The good, the bad and the ugly; an uncensored look at the latest films hitting the big screen.

Tubularsock

". . . first hand coverage, second hand news"

hands in the garden

reflection + romance + release

Rhyme and Reason

Poetry Meets Film Reviews

movies and songs 365

My thoughts on films, music, books, travel. Plus other random stuff

No Nonsense with Nuwan Sen

Art Cinema & Literature site NS

MovieBabble

The Casual Way to Discuss Movies

Apparently I'm Bipolar

And I thought I just had a crazy personality!

Ranjith's shortreads

Wanderers in the world

Alif Satria

Humanity, Positive, Gratitude

Luke Atkins

Film, Television, and Music Critic

Alina Happy Hansen Writer

A Personal Blog about Writing, Poetry, and Life. Use My Experiences To help you become a Better WRITER!

%d bloggers like this: