SOUTHPAW | REVIEW

Jake Gyllenhaal continues his run of epic movie roles with either huge physical changes or mentally challenging characters or both. SOUTHPAW is a fighting/ boxing movie and Jake transformed so much for this – from what I read 2000 sit ups a day for 6 months for a start. He is so ripped it is ridiculous. Originally this movie was going to be the sequel to 8 MILE starring Eminem, after many changes we ended up with SOUTHPAW, but Eminem still wrote a lot of the music. I also have to mention – this was the last movie James Horner composed, the film is dedicated to him and as the film makers had no money to pay for a composer such as Horner, he just did it for free because he loved the idea of the movie. This makes me happy sad, RIP you freaking legend!!! SOUTHPAW is out now from Roadshow Films, it is rated MA15+ and runs for 124mins. And now with huge thanks please enjoy Kernel Jordan’s fine review……..all the best………JK.

 

SOUTHPAW | MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
SOUTHPAW | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER IMAGE

 

BY JORDAN DODD

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. 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 simple boxer’s story.

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.

 

SOUTHPAW MOVIE IMAGE
SOUTHPAW | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | BILLY HOPE (JAKE GYLLENHAAL) TRAINING

 

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.

What this film does very well is show 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 emotion wash over her as she watches her father fight. This film is far from perfect, but it has a big heart, which is easily its biggest asset.

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.

 

SOUTHPAW MOVIE IMAGE
SOUTHPAW | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | BILLY HOPE (JAKE GYLLENHAAL) AND MAUREEN HOPE (RACHEL MCADAMS) KISSING

 

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.

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. Each blow is felt by the audience; 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-fuelled fighter of the past to one who is more technically sound. I’ll admit, I am a massive fight fan, and I was very impressed with his performance in the second half of the film, after Tick has trained him. Jake’s physical transformation for this role is also something to behold.

 

SOUTHPAW MOVIE IMAGE
SOUTHPAW | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | TICK WILLS (FOREST WHITAKER) RING SIDE

 

The scenes where the fighters are in their corners are also great, and are really the only moments where the script shines, as the advice Tick offers is spot-on.

However, in addition to the predictability and the clichéd 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, 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. This is especially noticeable given Jake and Forrest turn in great performances opposite him.

Far from a perfect film, SOUTHPAW hits hard both in the ring and emotionally. Even though I was sure I knew what was coming next, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would happily watch it again.

 

KERNEL JORDAN’S POP SCORE:

3 and a Half Pops

JK’S POP SCORE:

4 and a Half Pops

 

 

Kernel Jordan is a professional obsessionist, ‘writer’ of the truth and untruth, movie-review enthusiast, drummer, epileptic and bi-polar alien from a place far away….. He can also be stalked at his own site HERE.