From director Antoine Fuqua (‘Training Day’) and writers Kurt Sutter (‘Sons Of Anarchy’) and Richard Wenk (‘The Mechanic’) comes SOUTHPAW – the story of Billy “The Great” Hope, Junior Middleweight Boxing Champion of the World. When tragedy strikes and he loses it all, Billy enters the battle of his life as he struggles to become a contender once again and win back those he loves.

SOUTHPAW lands in Irish cinemas July 24, 2015.

  • emerb

    Director Antoine Fuqua and screenwriter Kurt Sutter (“Sons of Anarchy”) bring us “Southpaw”, a familiar “rags-to-riches” tale about a boxing champion who loses everything but punches his way back to glory and redemption once again. The lead role was originally written for rapper Eminem but in the end it is Jake Gyllenhaal who gets transformed into the bloodied, battered but magnetic prize-fighter on whom this story is based.

    When the film opens, Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal) is riding high with a champion belt. He’s risen from tough circumstances. He grew up underprivileged and was raised in an orphanage in Hell’s Kitchen but overcame his childhood challenges to eventually become the undefeated light heavyweight champion of the world. Leading a lavish lifestyle, the fighter is living the good life – cars, a lavish mansion, beloved by fans and sports journalists alike. All the while he is staunchly supported by his proud, adoring daughter Leila (Oona Laurence) and smart, sexy wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams), who shares the same background
    as a child of the streets. She is also his lifeline and protects him from “ friends” and assorted operators, including his manager (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson). Her concern for him is genuine and their public affection signals how much in love they are. Even as the film opens after the first fight however, we see that his aggressive, brutish and undisciplined fighting style has her terrified. She watches him a complete mess, dazed and bloodied, slumped in the dressing room and surrounded by red towels. She desperately wants him to take a break from fighting before he is permanently damaged by the endless blows he endures in the ring.

    After the initial, fleeting moment of triumph, we then follow Billy’s rapid and painful downward spiral. Tragedy strikes when, at a gala charity fundraiser ball, an unexpected melee with brash young opponent Miguel Escobar (Miguel Gomez) results in violence and a ferocious fist-fight with tragic consequences. From that point, Billy’s life and career go into a rapid downward spiral. He falls apart physically and emotionally hitting rock bottom. He loses everything, he’s ordered to attend anger management classes, his house is foreclosed, his possessions go to auction and even his daughter is whisked off into protective care. Even his closest advisors and friends abandon him when he loses his title
    and his manager is no help. Devastated and despondent, Billy never recovers,
    but dropping out doesn’t seem to be an option. As the finances are quickly
    depleted, he turns to blind-in-one-eye tough but sensitive former professional
    coach Tic (Forest Whitaker) to get him back on top. From this point, the movie details Billy’s clawing his way back to everything that matters to him and trying to rebuild his life with a valiant comeback and a fight to regain his custody of his daughter.

    It is the overpowering performance by Gyllenhaal which keeps the story in sharp focus. If you have followed his work for the last decade you will be aware of his extraordinary variety of complex performances in films like “Brokeback Mountain”, “Zodiac”, “Source Code”, “Prisoners” and “Nightwatch”. He is a superb actor and completely dedicated to his work. Here he undergoes an astonishing physical transformation into a bloodied, scarred, tattooed, ferocious prize-fighter. It is even hard to recognize him with his blood covered face and wild roars as he delivers the winning blows that make him world champ. Over the course of the film we see him change as a boxer and the fighter we see at the
    end is a changed man. His character is multilayered and complex – vulnerable,
    rough and riveting. McAdams is well cast, strong and perfectly credible as the protective-wife caught up in the contradictions of being married to a violent prize fighter. Together with Laurence, the three of them create a believable family dynamic. Naomie Harris and Rita Ora make the best of their small parts. Whitaker is powerful and reliable as always. Admittedly, the story arc is very
    familiar – the boxing champion who loses it all and has to fight his way back to glory. The spellbinding performance from Gyllenhall is the main attraction – the sheer dedication, commitment and sincerity he to every aspect of the role is remarkable. “Southpaw” does not shy away from the physical brutality. The boxing sequences are intense, punishing and suspenseful and the camera catches every punch, every drop of blood and sweat. This is an exhausting, intense and brutal drama but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think Gyllenhaal has proved, yet again, that he is a worth Oscar contender.

  • emerb

    Hope it’s ok that i left a review on this post 🙂