Editor’s Notes: Southpaw is out on 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack October 27th.
Southpaw (Anchor Bay) is the story of a man fighting, both in the boxing ring and out, to regain his self-respect and win back the respect of his family.
In the depths of depression, he persuades gym manager Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker) to get him back in shape for the big time. The crusty Tick, channeling Burgess Meredith’s Mickey in “Rocky,” demands complete obedience to his strict training regimen. But the main plot of Southpaw involves the deteriorating relationship between Billy and Leila and its eventual mending. This process is depicted realistically, not rushed in montage form. We feel that their reconciliation requires as much work from Billy as his fight training. Winning back the love and respect of his daughter becomes Billy’s highest priority, a first step to reclaiming his role as father.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua (The Equalizer, Training Day), Southpaw is an amalgam of many earlier fight films, particularly Raging Bull and Rocky.
Gyllenhaal does a good job of conveying the constant pain of a fighter, even after winning a bout, as he slowly rises from a bed, hobbles from one room to the next, winces when he moves a certain way. Overall, though, his performance is terribly one-note, as he mutters and mumbles his way through the picture, whether Billy’s times are good or bleak.
Mr. Whitaker provides a sobering, down-to-earth performance as the trainer turned gym owner who’s been there and seen it all. Tick provides the motivation for Billy to get his life back together. Whitaker knows how to underplay a scene for maximum effect rather than showboat.
Ms. McAdams’ Maureen is figuratively in Billy’s corner through every fight and understands that the ring is Billy’s life, not just his source of income. She’s the organizer, planner, businesswoman and soulmate whom Billy completely trusts with his career and future.
Rated R, Southpaw contains extremely authentic, bloody fight sequences filmed from angles familiar to TV viewers of pro boxing matches. Gyllenhaal and Miguel Gomez, who plays Billy’s opponent in the climactic fight, are precisely choreographed, giving these scenes a raw authenticity.
Bonus extras on the 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include deleted scenes, Q & A with cast, making-of featurette, and an extended training montage. A Digital HD copy is included.