Best Boxing Films.
written by Souranath Banerjee
The first boxing film I saw was Rocky, the epic violent scenes of Sylvester Stallone battling it out in the ring for honor had made huge impact on me as a teenager, so much so that I wanted to be a boxer at the time!
But soon enough I saw a real boxing match (The Bite Fight) where Mike Tyson tries to bite off Evander Holyfield’s ear and that sure helped me change my career options and for good.
In fact boxing as a game can be traced back to as early as the Bronze Age (between 3000 BC and 2500 BC).
It is indeed one of the most barbaric form of sport which has it’s roots directly imbedded in the times when gladiators were thrown in an arena for the sheer sadistic pleasure of the viewers, and the so called entertainers had to battle it out till their last breath!
Of course the rules have been civilized and sophisticated.
Today, the boxers are generously paid and in return are encouraged only to hit and knock down their opponent (instead of killing them) and we, the (less demanding) audience still enjoy the blood, the pain and the agony of two people fighting each other purely for our entertainment.
We not only buy expensive tickets to cheer them live on stage, but also relish a few emotional movies made on their lives (be it fictional or biographical); a combination of the boxer’s sentimental family background and enough gory fight sequences always seem to work fine for us!
So, let’s celebrate some of the Best Boxing Films ever made till date.
Let the rounds begin!
10. Ali (2001)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nl2FSulKQq4
He often unapologetically boasted that he was THE greatest boxer of all times and who can say he was wrong in saying that?
Directed by Michael Mann, this is one of the best biographical account of the all time famous boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
The film is a perfect balance of his epic success in the ring and also his famous personal life.
9. The Boxer (1997)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o55UrRbni50
A man recently out of prison tries to resume his life as a boxer and starts a boxing club to train fresh talents.
Directed by Jim Sheridan, this film is not entirely on boxing and it’s glory but about the power of boxing as a sport that has the ability to knit a community (or at least try to).
Brilliant film that doesn’t shy away from commenting on political violence and it’s after effects.
8. Southpaw (2015)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mh2ebPxhoLs
A tragic accident crashes a boxing champion’s life but he needs to trin himself, comeback for the title and win, at least for the sake of his young daughter.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the film boasts of some brilliant acting and realistic gory fights along with a decent touch of emotions from a boxer’s life.
7. Fat City (1972)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UevWnct5pkQ
One young enthusiastic boxer and the other one is a middle aged fighter, and how their life stories get intertwined.
Superlative acting and an uncommon way of storytelling that makes this film unique.
Directed by John Huston, this is one of the most unconventional boxing film that deserves a lot more attention than the usual.
6. Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m3h4EHZSj6k
According to the doctor boxer Mountain Rivera must put an end to his career because of his injuries but his crafty manager is all set to use him for one last fight!
Directed by Ralph Nelson, this is one outstanding film that revolves around a boxer’s life and portrays the sad scenario of how a boxer is often used as a tool to make money by the people he trusts.
5. Cinderella Man (2005)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlbHzcH4VJY
The brilliant comeback story of James Braddock, a boxer whose career was supposedly over, returned to the ring and became a winner.
Directed by Ron Howard, this Oscar nominated film is such a enchanting tale that successfully teleports you to that particular era (1930s) and makes you attached to the Braddock family for real. Probably the most emotional boxing film I have ever seen.
4. Creed (2015)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCBzWLVQgk8
The latest in the Rocky series, but this time Rocky Balboa doesn’t fight himself but mentors one of his past rival Apollo Creed’s son to become a champion.
Great script and awesome acting, and most interestingly superbly realistic fight sequences that makes the film unique.
Directed by Ryan Coogler, the film does keep up to the great tradition of Rocky Balboa’s legacy.
3. The Fighter (2010)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71l-kIhJ5j8
Directed by David O. Russell, this is one film that is very close to my heart, not entirely because of the tensions inside the boxing ring but also outside it.
The film portrays the the early years of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward and his brother Dicky Eklund who was also his trainer.
Absolutely brilliant performances and a great biographical boxing drama.
2. Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_RsHRmIRBY
Won four Oscars including Best picture, a film that tells a tale of extreme determination and courage, the story of a woman who trains herself against all odds to become a professional boxer.
Directed by Clint Eastwood, it is one of the most riveting boxing film that highlights the trainer-trainee relationship to a new height.
A recent Indian boxing drama Mary Kom also has a similar story line but then it’s also a biographical account of famous Indian boxing champion Mary Kom.
1. Raging Bull (1980)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiVOwxsa4OM
The biographical take on renowned boxer Jake LaMotta, his violent temper and destructive attitude that affects his life both in and out of the boxing ring!
Exceptional performances, brilliant direction, camera and edit and a perfect script – winner of two Oscars.
An epic boxing drama, probably the most popular boxing film ever, directed by none other than Martin Scorsese!
and (The ‘+1′ film is not necessarily the best but certainly the most innovative one. A must watch)
+1. The Set-Up (1949)
Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vbuwvR3q_o
A rare combination of a film-noir and a boxing film!
Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Robert Wise, this is one dark sports-drama were the boxer desperately tries to win the big game, unaware that a bet has been placed by his manager for him to lose!
Great storytelling and the boxing scenes are superbly shot, I am sure this film is the inspiration for many future boxing films that followed through the years ahead.