Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence
Release Date: Now Available on Blu-Ray & DVD
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9.5/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
SOUTHPAW tells the riveting story of Billy “The Great” Hope, reigning Light Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World (Academy Award® nominee Jake Gyllenhaal). Billy Hope seemingly has it all with an impressive career, a beautiful and loving wife (Rachel McAdams), an adorable daughter (Oona Laurence) and a lavish lifestyle. When tragedy strikes and his lifelong manager and friend (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) leaves him behind, Hope hits rock bottom and turns to an unlikely savior at a run-down local gym: Tick Willis (Academy Award® winner Forest Whitaker), a retired fighter and trainer to the city’s toughest amateur boxers. With his future riding on Tick’s guidance and tenacity, Billy enters the hardest battle of his life as he struggles with redemption and to win back the trust of those he loves.
Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) was living the dream as a result of his impressive success in the world of boxing, living in a lavish home with his beautiful wife and daughter and still undefeated in the ring. Then in one brief moment his life took a turn for the worse and unable to cope with the continually increasing issues occurring, Billy hits rock bottom. Seeing no option other than to improve himself and work for fear of losing even more, he finds an unlikely supporter and friend in a small gym owner who out of pure kindness provides Billy a job and the first glimmer of hope he’s had in too long. Intent on regaining at least a portion of what he lost, Billy begins training once again under the gym owner’s guidance in an attempt to begin regaining his place in the world he loved.
Directed by the incredibly talented Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) from a script by Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy), Fuqua does a flawless job at the helm of ‘Southpaw’, guiding Sutter’s powerful and moving script with beautiful precision. In addition to the talented team behind the camera, this film owes a great deal to the incredibly talented individuals who comprise the cast including Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, Oona Laurence, Forest Whitaker, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, Miguel Gomez and a number more, all of whom deliver highly capable performances in each of their respective roles. Nonetheless Gyllenhaal and Laurence easily steal their show, Gyllenhaal nearly unrecognizable here in his massive form.
‘Southpaw’ is a riveting, hard-hitting film that is guaranteed to pull you in for this boxer’s journey through one of the most trying periods of his life, regardless of whether you’re a fan of boxing personally which I admittedly am not. That fact certainly didn’t stop this emotionally powerful film from pulling me in and before long I found myself so invested in Billy Hope’s world that I was surprisingly uncomfortable with the level of tension the matches and many other moments in the film delivered, especially for someone with so little interest in the general concept. ‘Southpaw’ is easily one of the best films I’ve had the pleasure of seeing so far this year and I can’t recommend this phenomenal and emotionally powerful film highly enough, it’s not to be missed.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Southpaw’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic, delivering a sharp, detailed and beautiful presentation with no noticeable faults of any kind, holding up impressively even during the darkly lit and fast moving sequences, never resulting in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a top notch high definition video presentation complimented by a notably healthy bitrate that shouldn’t disappoint.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack sounds great, providing a clean, discrete and at times fairly aggressive audio presentation, consistently utilizing all five available channels in order to surround the viewer with the soundtrack along with noticeable background activity in large crowds, especially the fight sequences, while never causing any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a solid 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers in every aspect required of it.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Southpaw’ includes a few solid extras. Included on the release are a number of Deleted Scenes from the film (running approximately 21 minutes altogether). Also included is ‘Southpaw: Inside the Ring’ (approximately 22 minutes) which features a behind the scenes look at the film including interviews and comments with the cast and crew. We are additionally treated to a ‘Q&A with Cast’ (19 minutes) and an ‘Extended Training Montage’ (4 minutes).