Southpaw is a classic comeback film. Billy Hope (played by an incredibly in shape Jake Gyllenhaal) is a brawler from New York who loses everything after the tragic death of his wife Maureen (portrayed by Rachel McAdams) including his daughter (Oona Laurence) who is removed from his custody by child services.
At the beginning of the film Billy Hope is the middleweight champion of the world, with money in the bank, a beautiful family and is living the high life. He’s dragged himself up from nothing, having grown up in children’s homes, and is enjoying the fruits of his success. However everything starts to spiral out of control after the loss of his wife, losing his title, his money and his daughter in quick succession. At rock bottom he turns to Tick Willis, a boxing trainer who reluctantly agrees to help him change his style, get the chance to return to the top and get his daughter back.
“I can’t lose my daughter. I’ll give you my everything”
– Billy Hope
The first thing you notice about Southpaw is the insane shape that Jake Gyllenhaal is in for this role. He’s no beginner when it comes to bulking up – see him in Prince of Persia for proof – but consider the difference between his character in Nightcrawler (the film he shot before Southpaw), a borderline malnourished creepy photojournalist and when he jumped into the ring a good 28 pounds heavier. This amazing transformation came from some serious dedication from Gyllenhaal working with Terry Claybon, a friend of director Antoine Fuqua, owner of Lb4Lb boxing gym in LA and an experienced trainer who has worked with some of the best, including Muhammad Ali.
By the time they’d finished Jake wasn’t just in great shape he was genuinely ready to step in the ring – the exact way a boxer gets fight ready through camp Claybon had him running every morning, jumping rope, working footwork and defence (Gyllenhaal would actually be taking punches during filming) shadow boxing and hitting the bags. Coupled with up to 2000 sit ups a day, as well as hundreds of pull ups, dips and push ups and plenty of medicine ball work. Coupled with tire flips and sledgehammer work, the results speak for themselves.
Featuring a star studded cast, including 50 cent and Forrest Whittaker as well as two mammoth training montages and backed up by a soundtrack that’s since been released by Shady Records (Eminem’s record company) overall the result is an intense film that’ll tug on your heart strings, have you on your feet cheering and make you desperate to get in the gym and hit stuff!
Most memorable line
“I can’t lose my daughter. I’ll give you my everything” – Billy Hope, when Tick Willis tells him he wouldn’t be able to handle the strict rules at his gym.
5 stars out of 5
You can see the trailer for Southpaw below.