Dir. Antoine Fuqua
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (follow me: @Cleric20)
“Billy Hope knows how to take a punch, but he also drops bombs.”
Ladies and Gentlemen: I give you the heavyweight cinematic prize-fight of the year! From the mind of Kurt ‘Sons of Anarchy’ Sutter and directed by Antoine ‘Training Day’ Fuqua – please put your hands together for the incredibly beefed up Jake ‘Nightcrawler’ Gyllenhaal who stars as Billy Hope, also known as “Southpaw”!!
Aiming to take the undisputed boxing film title from the likes of The Fighter, Raging Bull and um Rocky, Southpaw follows the gut wrenching story of Hope – a champion prize fighter who hits rock bottom, sacrificing everything to his quest to be the best. Fuqua’s film goes full drama-em-up detailing how he must somehow find redemption and maybe a way to rebuild his life as well as his fighting career.
It sure is a long and emotionally draining journey that deals not just with the boxing training and fights but with the associated fallout of anger, damaging parenthood, wrecked relationships and ultimately a father's love for his child. Dismissed by some for its fairly predictable ‘featherweight’ plot, it is the cast who excel and make Southpaw something really worth checking. Gyllenhaal in the lead and Forest Whitaker as his trainer Tick Wills are excellent, Hope’s wife Maureen is given real heart by Rachel McAdams and his daughter Leila is a played by potential star in the making Oona Laurence. It all comes together well and delivers a slick upper cut of emotional cinematic entertainment.
"marriage made in heaven"
Even if you’re not a boxing fan, I’d say Southpaw is worth seeing due to the incredible cinematography alone. Everything is shot with a great eye for detail and the real life elements are just as watchable even if not as adrenalin pumping as the fights which come alive through the use of some clever first person viewpoints, really puttin you in the ring. This technique would make a superb PlayStation 4 game.
Sure the rags-to-redemption plot has been well served in many guises before, but Gyllenhaal really nails it as a vessel of aggressive, nitrous fuel righteous revenge. Backed up by the quality production values and solid casting which even generates a weirdly likeable roguish role for Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson.
Southpaw is a triumph and can take its place amongst the great boxing films with honour.
Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:
(4 - not a 'paw' effort - this is a contender…)
Awesomeness öööö – some unforgettable fight action scenes
Laughs öö – not very much fun
Horror ööö – bloody violence obligatory!
Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - fight for your family...