Bill I’s Review – 3.5 out of 5
Jake Gyllenhaal is tremendous as the boxer who becomes champion, (spoiler alert) loses his title, then (not much of a spoiler) tries to regain it. His body and fighting are super realistic, in fact, he’s probably in better shape than most professional fighters. The story is nothing groundbreaking, but it’s executed very well. I enjoyed seeing 50 cent as a dapper fight promoter; pay attention to his fake smile. Wonder who he is channeling, maybe every boxing promoter ever? Rachel McAdams is terrific as well as the girl playing their daughter. And Forest Whitaker, while playing a cliche, is excellent. I can’t help but compare this to The Fighter, where Christian Bale and Mark Wahlberg and Amy Adams hit it out of the park (or should I say hit a knockout punch), and this film clearly falls short in every aspect. But enjoyable and I recommend it. Just a little warning: this is not a fun film, it’s intense, touching, and quite a downer in places.
Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5
Yikes—what a transformation for Jake Gyllenhaal from Night Crawler to Southpaw. It makes me want to hit the weight room (but I think I’d need to give up M&Ms and more, and even then, let’s face it, there’s no hope for a six pack for me). But, in both films he gives great performances as do the rest of the supporting cast.
The fight sequences are great, too, if you like that sort of thing. Although whenever I watch these (think Rocky films), I always think that in real life they would have stopped the fight about 10 times. For another great boxing scene, see the youtube clip with Charlie Chaplin from City Lights below, even if you don’t like boxing.
While I liked the film overall, as Bill points out, they do squeeze about every boxing film cliche into this film as possible. (I’ve also included a link to a list of over 200 boxing films below, so there are quite a few that have developed over the years). Per the required boxing cliche, Gyllenhaal has to hit rock bottom before his quest for redemption can begin. Just when you think he’s as low as he can go, the film reaches new heights of lowness (is that possible?), hence Bill’s downer statement.
But if you like boxing films or want to see Jake Gyllenhaal’s six pack, see this movie. And, then in the fall, we get to see an appearance by Rocky again (as a trainer) in Creed .