Southpaw Blu-ray Review
SOUTHPAW is a muscular boxing film that will captivate you with its performances and also reach for your heart as well. Sure there are clichés to be found here, but ultimately you will be won over with the sentiment.
Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is the light heavyweight champ of the world who has never been defeated. We see him take on a challenger that should be an easy victory for him. Billy is a hard scrabbled guy who has fought his way up from Hell’s Kitchen to get to where he’s at. At ringside his supportive wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) and slick manager Jordan Mains (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) look on as he takes a pummeling. You know right away that Director Antoine Fuqua is not going to shy away from the brutality of boxing. You can feel each bone crushing blow when they connect.
After this brutal display in the ring, Maureen is concerned for her husband’s health. He’s not blocking as many punches as he used to and it seems that he needs to get hit repeatedly to turn on his A game. Maureen doesn’t want her husband to become a vegetable in a few years and that will be bad for her and their daughter Leila (the fantastic Oona Laurence).
SOUTHPAW is a little different in that it starts at the pinnacle of Billy’s career. He’s already the champion. He has the huge mansion, nice cars, beautiful swimming pool, loving family and expensive watches to go around for his crew. This all changes when a tragic event with fellow boxer Miguel Escobar (Miguel Gomez in fine villain form) occurs after a fundraiser. Billy’s life is thrown for a loop. He basically starts abusing alcohol and drugs. He then takes a fight where he’s not totally prepared for. This turns out as you expect it to turn out. Billy loses everything. He gets his family taken away, he loses his house and he doesn’t have any money to fall back on. His record rapid fall from grace is quite reminiscent of Rocky’s in Rocky V. They must have had the same money managers.
The rage in Billy has been a blessing and curse for him. It has fueled his boxing, but it has gotten him in trouble in other areas. We as an audience know what is coming and demand it. Billy has to get redemption in the ring and for his family. Billy is now living in a rundown apartment. He employs the services of trainer Tick Willis (Forest Whitaker). Tick had trained the one boxer who gave Billy his best fight. Tick gives Billy a job and demands that Billy follows his rules or else. This presents Billy some challenges as he is a proud and stubborn guy. But they learn to respect each other. Tick teaches some new defensive techniques and Billy gives Tick more meaning to his life.
Watching an Antoine Fuqua film is an event. You know that you will get explosive action and extreme intensity. The boxing scenes are filmed with such care. He gives you some point of view shots where you are taking the punches along with Billy. There is also a nice story between Billy and Leila. Billy realizes he has to get better for her to make the family more complete.
Jake Gyllenhaal is the star of the show. He got in fantastic shape for the role. He envelops Billy as a guy whose education may not be the best, but he tries to seem smart. Gyllenhaal captures the mannerisms of a boxer just perfectly. He walks with a certain focus and purpose. I thought it was a fantastic performance. Whitaker, Laurence and McAdams also give top notch performances. Each of them shares something on the screen that elevates the material even when it is filled with the clichés. I expected that from Whitaker and McAdams. Laurence was the real scene stealer. She brought the gravitas for this key role and didn’t fall into the typical traps that many young actors go by.
SOUTHPAW is a real crowd pleaser. I wouldn’t call it a great film, but you will certainly be entertained throughout as you take the journey with Billy.
Video: The boxing scenes are captured beautifully on the screen.
Audio: The sound was an issue at times for me. The boxing scenes with all the noise that comes with it could pose problems with people with hearing problems. The other scenes were better in this regard.
Deleted Scenes (20:46): There are 8 scenes in all here. You get the after fight treatment for Billy. You also get more of the family dynamic between Billy, Maureen and Leila. The downward spiral for Billy and the police case is delved into more. You also see additional footage from the group home and the case worker.
Southpaw: Inside the Ring (21:30): Fuqua, the screenwriter and actors go into the making of the film. The training, characters and boxing are all discussed. The director is also talked about.
Q & A with the Cast (18:56): This involves Gyllenhaal, Jackson, McAdams, Laurence and Gomez. They talk about the process to get into the characters and what they saw in the movie. The dynamic between Gyllenhaal, McAdams and Laurence is gone over in more detail. Other tidbits are shared.