As far as boxing movies go, I think ‘Southpaw’ could be up there as one of the very best.
The movie is based around the career of Light Heavyweight boxer Billy “The Great” Hope and his struggles to cope after his wife is killed.
Billy played by Jake Gyllenhaal has it all, a loving wife and daughter, money and is Champion of the world with a huge mansion in New York. But that is all taken away after his wife is killed. Hope met his wife in the same orphanage in Hell’s Kitchen.
The movie starts with Billy Hope defending his title at Madison Square Garden, like all boxing movies the actual boxing doesn’t look that great.
Hope wins the fight but comes out bruised and battered and considering his career in boxing. Hope’s wife (played by Rachel McAdams) want’s him to walk away from the sport because she fears he will get seriously hurt in the ring.
Hope’s fighting style is no defense really, just knock the guy out more so, but after 40 fights this way of fighting is starting to catch up with him.
His speech is slurred, memory blanks and his left eye is damaged. So his wife Maureen wants him to walk away as she fears he will end up punch drunk and won’t be able to look after their daughter Lelia.
Hope agree’s to walk away but his promoter Jordan Mains played by Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) wants him to sign a 3 fight contract worth $30 million.
Hope refuses and plans to retire. At a function in New York, Hope is confronted by Miguel “Magic” Escobar, the man who wants to fight Hope for his Light Heavyweight crown.
Escobar believes Hope is ducking him and confronts him, after a tirade of abuse directed at Hope’s wife Maureen, Billy attacks Escobar, punches are thrown and then a gun shot rings out.
Maureen has been shot by a stray bullet fired by one of Escobar’s entourage. Maureen dies in the scene and then it all goes downhill for Hope.
He lost his wife and then his house is in jeopardy of getting repossessed by the bank, so his only option is to sign the contract Jordan Mains is offering him.
Hope fights 8 weeks after the death of his wife and he is defeated after dropping his hands and is not willing to compete, after the fight is stopped for headbutts by the referee.
This leads to Hope being banned for a year, sued for breach of contract and damages. Jordan Mains then joins Escobar’s team and drop’s Billy.
Hope’s only option to pay his bills is selling his house at this point. He then then has his daughter taken off him after he is involved in incidents with drinking and possessing a weapon without a license.
Hope is now at rock bottom and has to start from scratch, he wants to get back his daughter while trying to rebuild his boxing career.
He turns to Titus “Tick” Wills, who runs a strict boxing gym in one of the ghetto’s of New York.
It is here that Hope start’s to turn his life around again. Wills teaches Hope how to control his anger, something that has got him into trouble all his life.
Wills also teaches him the art of defense and how to move without getting hit. Hope then begins to hold down a job at the gym which was ordered by the court that took his daughter away.
Wills wants Hope to fight southpaw as he thinks this is the way to beat Escobar. We then see a montage of training sessions and visits with his daughter to show he’s getting back on track.
Then after a charity fight, he is offered a chance at the World title which is now held by his fierce rival Miguel Escobar.
Hope takes the fight at 6 weeks notice. After 2 months he finally get’s his daughter back and this spurs him on for his fight with Escobar.
The fight couldn’t be bigger, it’s a chance for Hope to avenge the death of his wife, get his boxing career back on track, prove to his daughter that he can take care of her, prove the doubters wrong and get his life on track.
The fight is in Las Vegas, gone is the lavish lifestyle he had before, now it’s just Hope and his trainer entering the arena.
The fight goes the 12 rounds with both fighters dropping the other. It goes to the scorecards and a split decision and Hope gets the win to reclaim his Light Heavyweight World Title.
This movie doesn’t fail to deliver, it is engrossing from the very start.
It’s not just a boxing movie, it has something for everyone. It’ll either have you in tears or on the verge of tears from the start.
The boxing scenes could have been improved and made look a bit more real, but that is the only negative really.
We get brilliant performances from Gyllenhall, McAdams, Whittaker and the whole cast.
From a boxing perspective, we also see cameo’s from Victor Ortiz, Jimmy Lennon Jr, Roy Jones Jr and Rita Ora. In my opinion ‘Southpaw’ is a must see – it’s a great watch for boxing fans and movie fans.
The movie also shows from a boxing context, how some promoters in the past have had questionable methods and from the boxer’s point of view, just how much these brave athletes really put their bodies through for the masses’ entertainment.
A genuine 10 out of 10 for me.
(Note: Image credit – 24x7review.com)
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