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Updated: Apr 24

If you love Boxing movies.....

If you love great acting in stories of trial and battle for redemption....

SOUTHPAW is an amazing new boxing film that will blow you away.

Jake Gyllenhaal has transformed himself into a shredded, punch drunk boxer named Billy Hope.

Raised in foster care in Hell's Kitchen, he's pulled himself up from the depths and lives a life of wealth, privilege and love, with a loyal, devoted wife Maureen (Rachel McAdams) and daughter Leila (Oona Laurence).

Early in the film, at a charity event, up and coming Columbia boxer "Magic" Escobar taunts Billy, then throws profanity toward Mo and Billy. Hope goes after Escobar and it quickly escalates into a horrific, tragic death.

Hope's life spirals out of control in a sad tornado of depression, anger and sorrow and he soon finds himself with nothing. Banned from boxing, his money gone in months, Billy hits bottom.

Separated from Leila by child services, Billy must completely rebuild his life and find a way out of the tragedy.

Hope approaches legendary trainer Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker) and begs him to take him on and help him start from scratch.

It's a formula story, but not in the hands of this cast, writer Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy) and Director Antoine Fuqua (The Equalizer, Training Day).

Gyllenhaal leaves no doubt that he's one of our best young actors. He looks, speaks and carries himself like a different person, disappearing completely into Billy Hope.

You live through his heartbreak and pain for two hours, investing in him alongside Leila that he will be able to climb out of the darkness.

It's a crime Gyllenhaal wasn't nominated for Best Actor this year. McAdams is excellent, young Oona tears your heart out. I dare any Dad watching this to not be moved. She's a powerhouse and her scenes with Gyllenhaal as Billy are powerfully real.

The final 30 minutes is a Billy Hope title fight in Las Vegas. It makes the fight scenes in the "Rocky" movies look like a pillow fight. It's the best, most realistic fight scenes since "Raging Bull" which it equals in every way and exceeds as sheer entertainment.

50 Cent is excellent as Billy's manager, Jordan Mains.

Naomie Harris (Moneypenny in the Craig OO7 flicks) is quietly perfect as the social worker responsible for Leila.

As Escobar, Miguel Gomez (so good in "The Strain" as Gus) is a man torn between respect for Billy and his own ambitions, bound to the brutality of his background.

In a lesser film, her relationship with these characters would be so predictable. Here, like the rest of the film, its raw, real and in the moment.

This is an amazing boxing film, family drama, tragedy and redemption film rolled into one superb package.

Gyllenhaal matches his strong turn as Louis Bloom in last year's "Nightcrawler" with his performance here. Going from a gaunt, creepy loner in that film to a muscle bound championship fighter here, he's startling. Any aspiring actor should watch those two films back to back. A deep transformation on and beneath the surface.

Like the rest of SOUTHPAW, Gyllenhaal is a brilliant knockout.

An A+.

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