A story about courage, determination and passion, SOUTHPAW follows the life of Billy “the great” Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal), the reigning junior middle weight boxing Champion and his rise back to the top after tragedy strikes and he hits rock bottom. Losing his lavish lifestyle, his family and his home, Billy soon finds an unlikely savour in Tick Willis (Forest Whitaker), a former fighter who now trains amateur boxers from the neighbourhood. Although Tick doesn’t form a friendship with Billy straight away, as the film progresses a bond starts to build between the two, much like Rocky and Apollo Creed in Rocky 3. Seeing the struggles and the hunger Billy has to get back in the ring and get his daughter back, Tick offers to train him and help regain his title, set to a classic fight montage with Eminem’s song ‘Phenomenal’ playing in the background.
Much like other boxing films, there are a few clichés that are usually obvious within this genre. However, unlike most boxing films, Southpaw really focuses on the back story of the character and his family. It’s not your typical rise to the top boxing film, but more a comeback story and the passion and love one man has not only for boxing but for his daughter, that helps him win his life back.
I’ve seen many boxing films, and the more modern ones tend to lack heart and emotion. What I mean by that is, although great films and beautifully made, they don’t have that emotional attachment to them as some of the classics, such as, Rocky (still one of the greatest films of all time). Southpaw, for me, has that. It offers not only very realistic fight scenes, but it also takes you on an emotional journey that you can almost put yourself in Billy’s shoes. It’s a metaphor for fighting for what you love, fighting through your struggles and fighting for happiness. Whether you like boxing films or not, Southpaw is definitely worth watching, it will capture your heart and take you on a rollercoaster ride with a great soundtrack also.
Jake Gyllenhall gives a riveting and heart-wrenching performance that deserves all the praise and recognition he gets. His chemistry with Rachel McAdams, is definitely what makes the audience feel compassion for his character and really understand the love they have for each other. Captivating performances from the whole cast that carries the film to a whole new level.