Southpaw (Blu-ray Review)

SouthpawSouthpaw is defined in the sport of boxing as the stance where the boxer has his right hand and right foot forward, leading with right jabs, and following with a left cross right hook.  Southpaw is the normal stance for a left-handed boxer.  Fictional boxer Rocky Balboa, for example, was a southpaw.  Therefore, I think you can pretty much conjure up that Jake Gyllenhaal’s character in Southpaw is a southpaw.  You picking up what I’m dropping here because I’m pretty much lost on what point I want to make.  So now that you know what a southpaw is I guess we can move on to talking about the 2015 sports drama film, Southpaw.  Just out of curiosity how many times did I mention my keyword in this first paragraph?  If you said seven times, have someone in the room where you’re at clap for you.



Southpaw is directed by Antoine Fuqua (The Equalizer) from a script written by Kurt Sutter (TV’s Sons of Anarchy). The film stars Prince of Persia‘s Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Rachel McAdams Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Victor Ortiz and Rita Ora.  And get this, the film was original inspired by and written for Eminem to play the titular character.  In 2012 he all the sudden decided to focus on his music.  You know what?  Good riddance!  I’m glad he didn’t star in this one.  It gives me more time to enjoy my boy Jake on the screen.  You know him and I were once on the same plane from L.A. to Cleveland.  Yep!  That’s a true story you can run with and print.

When I first heard about this project and even after taking in the first theatrical trailer I pretty much made my mind up that if you’ve seen one boxing movie, you’ve seen them all.  However, that’s just my ignorance talking.  Our story here is so much deeper and emotional than the norm.  It has heart, it has family and like in Moulin Rouge, above all else Southpaw has love.  And so the scrapping story of Southpaw goes a little something like this.

There’s a guy by the name of Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal).  He’s obviously a boxer and we find him at the height of his fame.  Like in the middle Rocky (Can’t help but make these comparisons) films, he has it all, a fancy house and a loving family, including his wife Maureen (McAdams).  And that’s where our trouble begins, not the boxing, but woman woes.  She wants him to quit so he can spend time with his daughter, Leila (Oona Laurence).  Doesn’t this sound like a plot in a Rocky film too?  I digress.  Billy temporarily postpones his upcoming match, but nevertheless (this is a movie after all) tragedy rocks Billy’s perfect world shortly thereafter.  His wife is murdered and Liela is taken away from him due to his instability, financially and chemically.

So when something so tragic like this happens to a beloved movie character what’s the one word that can describe what they can do?  Yep!  You guessed it.  It’s redemption!  And that’s exactly what Billy must do if he wants to win his daughter back.  How he does it and how our story resolves is all about that exact bumpy ride we take, which is beating around the bush for I’m not spoiling those beans.  Let’s just say it’s up to boxing trainer Titus “Tick” Wills (Whitaker) to put the “hope” back in Billy Hope, or maybe it’s the other way around.  You know how the budding mentor/student relationship paradigm can be.  It’s a b1tch sometimes how much we need each other in life, but just don’t know it.  Haha.

For the most part, I felt like I have seen this movie over and over before.  I knew every beat, plot point and twist before it was going to happen.  Yawn!  While that does not make for an exciting movie, it does help when your main stars deliver powerful performances that suck you in and have you rooting for them despite the eventual outcome you already know that will happen.  You understanding what I’m saying?  Except for the kid plot, if you’ve seen any Rocky film (in particular the third or fourth one), with the exception of the fifth, you’ve pretty much already seen Southpaw before.  It was uncanny how many resemblances there are, including a staircase, but I digress.  I’m not here to compare Southpaw to Rocky.  We all know which one is better.  Instead I want to focus solely on Southpaw and discuss what feels right and what doesn’t work in my opinion.

Despite the predictable plot devices the strength in Southpaw rests squarely on the performances.  I’ve never been a big Rachel McAdams fan (save for this season of True Detective), but even she does good too.  However, let’s not fool ourselves, the real star of the show is Jake with Forest taking a back seat to his brilliance.  Jake takes the familiar plot and tiresome genre and molds it into something of his own.  He makes you feel every punch and bruise and tugs at your heart strings over how much this young brawler truly loves his wife and kid to the point where he will do anything for them.  Forest, on the other hand, well he pretty much shines in everything he does so it was great to see him doing what he does best, excelling as an actor.  He’s come a long way since 1998’s Bloodsport, hasn’t he?  He sure has!

Southpaw is, for lack of a better way to explain it, a story of what happens when one moment you’re on top of the world, and the next you’re rock bottom.  Of course, since it’s a movie, this is all about redemption.  It’s also selfishly my favorite kind of redemption story too.  It’s like Rocky Balboa once said something along the line of it’s not about how hard you can hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep getting back up.  That’s how winning is done.  However, make no mistake about it, despite the emotional tale Southpaw tells, it’s still reeks very much of a product of unoriginal Hollywood, complete with the resolve too.  That’s what bothers me about Southpaw and ultimately prevents me from awarding it a higher score despite my lore for the subject matter.  I like the film a lot, but the Hollywood touches and parts I wish were done much differently prevented me from enjoying this to its fullest.  If nothing else, it does has me looking forward to Creed that much more.  That has to account for something, right?

So there you have it folks.  Gyllenhaal delivers a knockout performance, one of his best-to-date, but it’s not enough to save a screenplay that has been done over and over.  I suppose one can also give props and pay credit to Fuqua for surrounding himself with so much talent.  Nevertheless, however you slice it, Southpaw is a familiar tale, but make no mistake about it, this ain’t your daddy’s Rocky.  This is very much the same stripped down version with raw and emotional performances, but ultimately it’s very heavy underneath the weight of so many great boxing movies that have come before it (although kudos to the tension filled moments during the wrapping of the hands before the film’s first fight).  There’s main characters with tattoos and cell phones now, but strip all the modern technology and props away (including that Eminem songs), you have nothing more than Rocky III here set in modern times (although the Rocky films have much superior training montages).  That’s not a bad thing though.  As a Rocky fan I’m just saying.  Ding, ding!  Fight!



  • Encoding: AVC MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Clarity/Detail: Clarity and detail is instantly noticeable in the opening boxing match from all the blood, sweat and tears.  It’s made to look like an HBO PPV, so why wouldn’t the clarity be off the wall here?  That’s a rhetorical question of course.  From facial stubble to imperfections in skin, the detail viscerally punches you right in the face here (figuratively speaking of course).
  • Depth: The depth of field is crazy good in here with examples ranging from never ending scenes in the halls of Madison Square Garden to the deep NYC skyline.  I have zero complaints here.
  • Black Levels: Black levels are all deep and natural looking.  There were, however, a couple of times when I thought to myself the black levels could have been a bit deeper, but nothing to get your panties in a bunch over.  However, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I awarded it a perfect video score because the black levels are not perfect.  That’s just my two cents as I’m sure when you see this one you think I’m being too over critical.  But again, that’s my job here yo!
  • Color Reproduction: The colors are all rich (crimson blood), vibrant (the red, white and blue in the boxing ring ropes) and natural throughout (down to Earth and tame when necessary).
  • Flesh Tones: The flesh tones were very spot on and accurate for my liking here so I have no qualms in this department.
  • Noise/Artifacts: Like the Eminem song, this one’s phenomenal, not a speck of dirt, debris or scratch in the print.



  • Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTSHD-MA, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dynamics: I would say for the most part things are well balanced and faithfully represented here.  Like I go into detail down below, there’s a lot of quiet brooding in this film, but it’s the dynamics of the fight scenes that really brings this track to life, not to mention the score and thunderous soundtrack at times too.  For the most part, this track delivers.
  • Low Frequency Extension: Like the subject matter of the film, the LFE channel packs quite the punch here from the racy soundtrack to the thunderous bashings each boxer takes.  Blows are reproduced here with the utmost of authenticity.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: For my liking, the surrounds actually sounded pretty tame. You really don’t hear much until the boxing moments and then the crowd swallows you whole live with their screams and shouts from behind.  I don’t want to sound like I am dinging it for this, but there are a lot of quiet moments in this film and so you should only expect ambient effects from the rears during the majority of the movie.  I’m just forewarning you.
  • Dialogue Reproduction:  Spoken words are generally clear and intelligible.  There are a few soft moments so keep that volume up.



There’s not much here in the way of extras on the Southpaw Blu-ray.  Included in the Blu-ray set you get a DVD that houses the Standard Definition version of the film as well as a redeemable voucher code for an UltraViolet Digital HD copy too.  Other than that you are only treated with four supplemental features (plus some trailers) and sadly none of them are an audio commentary with Antoine and Jake.  As Jack Bauer would say “Dammit!”  Beggars can’t be choosers so let’s take a look at the less than hour worth of goodies tone found here.

  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 20:46) – There’s a Play All selection or you can watch the following individual deleted scenes by selecting them: “Breakfast,” “Getting Ready Extended,” “Billy’s Fall,” “Tick’s Gym,” “Leila’s Fight,” “Angela and Billy,” “Be Respectful” and “Don’t Get Hit Too Much.”
  • SOUTHPAW: Inside the Ring” (HD, 21:30) – This EPK brings us into the ring with Jake and Antoine as well as the cast and people in the know in the boxing world.  I did not know Antoine trains in boxing every day.  He has a great love of the sport.  I love how he discusses the kill switch inside a boxer and he talks about how he captures that in this film.  I like how they say the film is a journey about taking responsibility and how easily it’s all destroyed too.  The cast and crew all talk about the film, the theme behind it as well as behind-the-scenes.  This is the essential much watch extra for fans of the film.  Capturing authenticity is key here.  Professional boxer Victor Ortiz cracked me up.  The most amazing thing was how Antoine trained in the gym with Jake every day.  It’s intense!
  • “Q&A with Cast” (HD, 18:56) – This Q&A was for the Screen Actors Guild, moderated by Dave Karger (chief correspondent of Fandango) in Los Angeles on July 13, 2015.  Miguel Gomez, 50 Cent, Oona, Rachel and Jake all take part in this 18-minute discussion.  The 12-year-old Oona gets a lot of love from the panel here.  50 and Jake trade some jokes as well the former even checking his phone for a text message.  Jake said the biggest challenge for him in this film was the backstory and convincing himself of the character he was.  50 says Jake is the new Pacino.
  • “Extended Training Montage” (HD, 4:03) – This is basically the four months of training caught on film that Antoine and Jake did in preparation for production.  In my opinion, this was much better than the actual training montage in the movie.  It motivated me to work out my abs big time!
  • Trailers (HD) – No Escape, Big Eyes, The Intimidation Game



So here’s what it all boils down to. The Weinstein’s Southpaw, is a story about the ruin, but moreover redemption of a light heavyweight boxing champion who loses everything he loves in the face of tragedy.  Academy Award Nominee Jake Gyllenhaal leads the film with an emotional and physically charged performance, along with the supporting cast including Forest Whitaker, Naomi Harris, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Oona Laurence, and Rachel McAdams.  Will Jake’s character redeem himself and to win back the trust of those he loves?  You gotta watch to find out!   And guess what? There ain’t a better way to view Southpaw for the first time than on Blu-ray.  With reference video and a knockout audio presentation you can’t lose.  All that prettiness won’t help to improve the beaten story, but it sure doesn’t hurt either.  For fans of these kind of films, I recommend this one!  Enjoy!



Knocks Your Lights Out

on Blu-ray

October 27th!







Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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