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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Southpaw [Review]

It is one of the best boxing movies I've ever watched. 

While the movie "The Fighter" by Mark Wahlberg was great, there is nothing in comparison to Southpaw.


He has been very good in his previous movies like Nightcrawler, Enemy and Prisoners. Definitely one of those actors that deserve to win some award. Although it hasn't materialize, his continuous impressive role seems to suggest the awards will come some day. Maybe for Southpaw?
Well, firstly, it was impressive to see his physics, especially this was a movie done after his Nightcrawler role, where he lost a lot of weight to look very skinny. But in Southpaw, Jake Gyllenhaal has transformed himself into a jacked, ripped beast, gaining 15 pounds of pure muscle.

Jake Gyllenhaal as Billy Hope
His body showed the amount of effort and time he spent in the gym but Southpaw is more than just a boxing match. The scars, tattoos and slurred voice doesn't even do justice to the emotional depths Gyllenhaal brings to the part of a bruiser on the ropes. 

At the beginning of the movie, it shows Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) at the top of his game, but he's a boxer that endured the pain of the punches and constant jabs have left him punchy. After the opening boxing scene, his wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams) wants him to slow down and enjoy their 11-year-old daughter, Leila (Oona Laurence). Maureen is not just a beautiful and sexy wife of the rich (although she looks very beautiful indeed in the movie) but she was the childhood friend of Billy. Both Billy and her grow up in Hell's Kitchen orphanages. McAdams, strong and smoldering, reflected a character that is strong and helped Billy Hope in his career direction but her role was cut short in the movie when Maureen is involved in a shooting accident. The incident was sparked by Miguel Escobar (Miguel Gomez), a fighter who thinks he is better than Billy Hope and wanted to trigger a fight with Billy Hope after a charity event turn ugly.


The thing I like about Southpaw is that it's not all about a boxing fight. The entire team were committed to create a movie that involve a lot of emotion and sentiment. While the theme of the movie is similar to the many other boxing movies, the dynamics between Billy Hope and Leila was simply outstanding. Both Jake and Oona Laurence were great in their roles and their dynamics were authentic and so meaningful. 

Jake Gyllenhaal and Oona Laurence were great as father and daughter
The movie was about Billy losing his wife and falling into a state of depression, which eventually lead him to losing everything that is important to him. His title, his wealth, and he is in the midst of losing his only daughter, Leila, the most important part of his life. 

Even Yen Leng and I admitted that there we had teary eye during certain scenes. Both Jake and Oona were very convincing in their roles as father and daughter. 


This is the tricky part. To a certain expect, Southpaw is another Rocky movie but Jake and crew managed to pull it off.

The new training methods that Billy Hope learned from new trainer, Tick Wills (Forest Whitaker), who teaches Billy a new fighting style that doesn't involve stopping punches with his head. It also showed a lot about the betrayal that Billy faced from his former team and crooked agent. (Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson)

As usual, the intensive training were similar to that of Rocky but you can see that Jake really pull it off here. Of course, the directors were also very good in choosing the music to go with the movie. Generally, it's very motivating to watch the comeback kid that had lost everything.

So, while the sentiment of the father-daughter scenes were very powerful, the boxing scene was just as great and managed to distract us from that sentiment, making the teary moment a temporary one. 

The loss of loved ones, the betrayal of friends, the loss of wealth and achievement, the relationship between father-daughter, the punches, the's all a similar theme but Southpaw was a testament to individual brilliant act by people like Jake, Rachel McAdams and Oona Laurence. Definitely a movie to go to! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

[Review] Taken 3

Ex-government operative Bryan Mills starting to show his age in this third installment of the Taken series - I can swear that I heard his panting almost every breath taking scene, which makes the acting by Liam Neeson real.

In this series, Bryan Mills is hoping to reconcile with his ex-wife, Lenore St. John who is said to be not happy with her current husband. The reconciliation however cut short when she was brutally murdered. Bryan Mills was frame for the murder of Lenore and consumed with rage, he go on hiding to evade the CIA, FBI and the police and he intended to track down the murderer on his own with his skills.

It doesn't take long before he realized that the murderer is from the group of Russians, which then leads him to his ex-wife husband - and he interrogates him until he told how he was forced to cooperate with the Russians which might target Bryan's daughter, Kim. So, in order to protect his daughter while he revenge, he gets help from his friends to bring his daughter to where he can protect her while doing all the "dirty" work. Only after he almost exact justice for his wife, Bryan Mills realized that he and the Russians were played by Stuart to get the insurance money

Overall, I would say that Taken 3 doesn't really share much similarity between the first two installment, but Taken 3 has something fresh although I'm not really surprise by the ending as it is clearly shown half way in the movie. With action packing from the beginning Bryan go into hiding till the end, I would say that this movie is entertaining - although some of the escape doesn't really make sense but well, it's a movie after all and it doesn't have to make sense.