Southpaw (Blu-ray) (2015)

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Released 23-Dec-2015

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Making Of-Inside The Ring
Featurette-Q&A With The Cast
Additional Footage-Extended Training Montage
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 123:48
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Antoine Fuqua
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal
Forest Whitaker
Rachel McAdams
Oona Laurence
50 Cent
Skylan Brooks
Naomie Harris
Victor Ortiz
Miguel Gomez
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music James Horner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

†††† Southpaw is more or less an R-rated Rocky flick situated in a contemporary setting, but I do not use that designation to be flippant nor entirely critical. Even though the similarities to Rocky are undisputable, director Antoine Fuqua and writer Kurt Sutter have nevertheless created a solid sports drama taken on its own merits, buoyed by exceptional performances across the board and a sense of realism thatís enormously appreciated. Southpaw is the kind of drama that manages to be entertaining as well as affecting, and though it may not be a serious awards contender, it has more replay value than the usual Oscar bait.

†††† Light heavyweight boxing champion Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) is riding high, with a hugely impressive undefeated record after forty-three bouts, and a vast fortune that allows him to live comfortably with devoted wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) and young daughter Leila (Oona Laurence). At a charity function, Billyís anger issues unfortunately get the better of him, with fellow fighter Miguel Escobar (Miguel Gomez) baiting him into a burst of violence, leading to a scuffle that accidentally puts Maureen in the line of fire. Left utterly devastated, Billyís life begins to unravel, with suicidal tendencies and substances abuse exacerbating the situation, while his professional boxing license is suspended after he head-butts a referee. Worse, he runs out of money, loses his house, and Leila is taken away by child services. Left with nothing, the volatile boxer seeks to rebuild his broken life, turning to veteran gym owner Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker) for his chance at redemption.

†††† Scripted by Kurt Sutter, thereís little doubt that Southpaw is a formulaic sports drama, taking its cues from the Rocky series in particular. Indeed, the fall from grace and the death of Maureen brings back memories of Rocky III and IV, while the subplot of Billy losing his fortune seems reminiscent of Rocky V. Worse, even though the picture runs a sizeable two hours, it does feel undercooked from a dramatic perspective; the police investigation into Maureenís killing leads nowhere, Tickís willingness to take on Billy needed more motivation, and the script abandons the punch-drunk aspect of Billyís boxing career that Maureen brings up early in the movie. Furthermore, the ending falls short - the film tries to avoid the obvious outcome, instead opting for an alternative thatís just as predictable and overused. But although Southpaw has its obvious shortcomings, it miraculously manages to stay afloat thanks to the execution, with Sutter and Fuqua carving out compelling characters that are easy to latch onto.

†††† Whereas the Rocky films are a bit more family-friendly, Fuqua pulls no punches here, creating a visceral, distinctly adult boxing movie, in terms of violence, content and themes. Even though Southpaw can be dour as it observes Hopeís dark side, Fuqua displays appropriate tact, preventing the movie from deteriorating into an uncomfortable watch. Furthermore, Fuqua has continually shown he has a keen eye for action, and while this isnít exactly an action flick, the boxing sequences truly are a sight to behold. Visceral and hard-hitting, not to mention proficiently shot by cinematographer Mauro Fiore (The Equalizer) whose shallow-focus camerawork captures every drop of blood and sweat, itís easy to become invested in the boxing bouts throughout the picture, and itís even easier to root for Hope to succeed in the ring. The late great James Horner actually agreed to score the picture for no money, as he was touched by the story and Fuqua had limited funds left in the budget for music. As to be expected, Hornerís contributions are exceptional, with subtle, tender, emotive notes which gently enhance the movieís power. Even the Eminem songs suit the movie, which is a rare compliment. (Eminem was originally slated to play the lead role, but that thankfully did not pan out.)

†††† Gyllenhaalís career has had its ups and downs, but Southpaw continues the performerís recent winning streak after his exceptional work in movies like End of Watch and Nightcrawler. This is career-best work for Gyllenhaal, who throws himself into the role of Billy Hope with total conviction; he trained for months to get in proper shape, and he believably handles the layers of the character. Indeed, heís believable as a beefy, aggressive man of below-average intelligence, and heís still convincing as Billy rehabilitates himself over the course of the movie. There isnít a single moment throughout the film in which Gyllenhaal displays any trace of artifice, with the illusion being unfailingly maintained. McAdams also leaves an indelible impression, while newcomer Oona Laurence is one of the most convincing child stars in recent memory. The first act of the movie properly introduces Billy, Maureen and Leila, creating authentic characters and a believable familial unit, and the scene of Maureen taking a stray bullet is extremely powerful. Maureenís demise is utterly wrenching to watch, with tremendous performances and a harrowing sense of realism. Southpaw also benefits from the presence of Whitaker, a reliable thespian who breathes incredible life into the role of Tick Wills. Fuqua even manages to coax a watchable performance out of 50 Cent, a miraculous achievement in its own right.

†††† Due to its narrative shortcomings, Southpaw falls just short of reaching the upper echelon of boxing dramas, but it is a respectable effort thatís worthy of recent Oscar-nominated movies like Million Dollar Baby and The Fighter. Itís another winner for director Fuqua, who has established himself as a reliable purveyor of masculine entertainment.

†††† Note: In cinemas, some prints of the film ended with a title saying ďIn Memory Of Our Friend James Horner,Ē and this is thankfully on the Blu-ray.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† Southpaw was shot digitally using a combination of Red Epic Dragon and Arri Alexa cameras, and it translates extraordinarily to Blu-ray. Roadshowís 1080p, AVC-encoded HD presentation is true to the source, framed at 2:40.1, looking crisp and well-defined from top to bottom, and it leaves very little room for improvement.

†††† Detail is consistently exceptional, with close-ups revealing every bead of sweat and every little drop of blood during the boxing bouts. Hell, every bulging vein in Gyllenhaalís body is visible thanks to this precise HD presentation. Colours are stable, with blood looking red while skin-tones are natural, and the palette is extraordinarily rich, boasting true, inky blacks. Due to the nature of the digital photography, it does look a little flat at times, but this is not a flaw of the Blu-ray transfer.

†††† At times, Southpaw is a dark movie, with scenes taking place in low light, yet the transfer ably handles such moments, yielding no bothersome black crush or any other encoding anomalies to speak of. Noise does show up at times, but itís well-refined and attributable to the source. What matters is that no noise reduction, edge enhancement, or any other unnecessary digital touches were added to the presentation whilst it was being prepped for Blu-ray.

†††† Itís hard to imagine this sensational sports drama looking any better. The disc only contains English subtitles, and I found them well-formatted and easy to read.

Video Ratings Summary
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Audio

†††† The only thing more impressive than Southpawís video transfer is its audio presentation. This disc is imbued with an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track, as well as an English Descriptive Audio track encoded in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0. Weíre here to talk about the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, and boy, itís a stunner.

†††† Southpaw positively comes alive with this impactful, well-rounded audio track, and though it may not be encoded in 7.1 or Atmos, I doubt the movie could sound any better. Dialogue is extremely well-prioritised and always easy to comprehend, while every punch hits hard, accentuated by smart use of the subwoofer. Hornerís subtle yet emotive score comes through cleanly and precisely, while thereís noticeable separation and channel use to make this track more immersive.

†††† No complaints from me. This is a flawless track which recreates the cinematic experience with utmost ease.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

†††† A small but worthwhile selection of extras.

Deleted Scenes (HD; 21:25)

†††† Over twenty minutes of excised material, which is only available to view in one big chunk with no individual scene selection. There are some extended scenes and moments here as well, on top of a handful of scenes that were excised altogether. Itís understandable why some of this stuff was cut (especially a scene involving Leila getting bullied that features acting which wouldnít even pass muster in a school play), but this is still worth watching for some extra character stuff, and a scene in which the detectives give Billy an update on their investigation into his wifeís killing.

Inside The Ring (HD; 21:28)

†††† This EPK-style featurette starts off like a television puff piece from the í90s, which is something I havenít seen on a new release disc for quite a long time. Nevertheless, this making-of documentary does eventually settle into an agreeable groove, delving into the casting process and Fuquaís directorial style. Especially interesting is hearing about Gyllenhaalís gruelling training regimen in pre-production, working out every day right alongside Fuqua. I wish this extra wasnít as fluffy as it is, but itís worth watching nevertheless.

Q&A With The Cast (HD; 18:56)

†††† A Q&A with several of the actors, who are asked fairly standard questions about working on the movie and what drew them to the project. Since this was made for promotional purposes, it doesnít really provide much in-depth insight, but itís still worth watching, particularly for a poignant discussion about the late James Horner.

Extended Training Montage (HD; 4:02)

†††† Not exactly an extension of the movie, this is actually four minutes of footage of Gyllenhaal and Fuqua working extraordinarily hard to prepare for the movie, set to Eminemís music. This is pretty fun.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

† † Our local release is virtually identical to overseas releases. Buy local.

Summary

†††† Southpaw is able to overcome its conventional structure to become something special. There's so much power and emotion here, with the story being driven by focused direction and flawless performances. It's a remarkable piece of masculine entertainment.

†††† No real complaints from me about Roadshow's Blu-ray. Video and audio are reference grade, though I wish there were more extras, particularly a commentary track that would have topped the package off nicely. All things considered, this disc comes recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Saturday, January 09, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDPlayStation 4, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationLG BH7520TW
SpeakersLG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W

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