On Thursday, The Weinstein Company announced a release date for Jake Gyllenhaal’s boxing film, Southpaw. Directed by the helmer of Training Day and The Equalizer, Antoine Fuqua, and scribed by Sons of Anarchy creator, Kurt Sutter, Southpaw will be hitting theaters this summer on July 31.
Gyllenhaal, coming off his Golden Globe nominated turn in the excellent Los Angeles after dark thriller, Nightcrawler, clearly put in the time to look like a real fighter. Whereas the actor dropped 30 pounds to play Nightcrawler sociopath Lou Bloom, he bulked up and added 15 pounds of pure muscle to play a lefty junior middleweight champion.
Considering the involvement of Fuqua and Sutter, Southpaw is likely to be gritty and hardcore. Anyone who has ever seen an episode of Sutter’s SOA or just about any of Fuqua’s previous films knows these guys like it rough and grimy.
The fictional tale tells the story of Billy “The Great” Hope who battles personal tragedy and seeks redemption in the ring with the help of his trainer, a former washed up boxer played by Forest Whitaker. The film also features Rachel McAdams, rapper turned boxing promoter, 50 Cent, and former welterweight champion “Vicious” Victor Ortiz in supporting roles.
At one time, the film was slated to star Eminem in the lead, but the picture was dropped by Dreamworks in 2011. It landed at MGM in 2013, only to be dropped again before falling into the lap of the Weinstein Company.
Of Gyllenhaal’s performance, Fuqua told Deadline Hollywood, “Jake is going to change how people see him. I had him training twice a day in the boxing ring, he did two-a-days seven days a week. I pretty much had him with me and my trainer every day. I took him to almost every fight. I had him train at Floyd Mayweather’s gym in Vegas and we watched Floyd’s fights, and the Manny Pacquiao fight. He trained in New York at Church Gym with real fighters. We literally turned him into a beast. Jake, my God, he’s a very electric, powerful fighter in this movie, and a guy who fights for his daughter. I’m confident that this will change how people see Jake, as a leading man.”
For his part, boxing seems to have found a permanent grip on Gyllenhaal, who in an interview with the LA Times said, “I spent six months training for this. Now I'm looking up boxing all the time. It will be a part of my life forever.”
For those of us who love the fight game, the only thing nearly as good as a great fight is a great boxing movie. Considering the talent involved and the commitment of the lead, Southpaw gives us boxing fans multiple reasons to be excited. Mark your calendar.
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