It was tempting to list five of the six films from the Rocky series, until I realised that Rocky V and Rocky VI were a bit ridiculous. Although they are very popular, these films are not the only films about boxing that are worth watching, so here are my top 5 boxing films.
Michelle Rodriguez has been a part of the Fast and Furious franchise as well as the show Lost, but fans of hers will remember where she started. Back in 2000 Rodriguez got her break in the independent film Girlfight. She plays a teenager Diana who is not doing well at school and secretly begins to train at a boxing gym. With a gritty and authentic approach to amateur boxing, Girlfight is a great coming-of-age story that shows a young woman who continues to do what she enjoys in spite of the disapproval of those around her.
Will Smith portraying one of the greatest sporting figures in history may have been a dubious idea, however his Oscar nomination for the role showed that he definitely surpassed many expectations. Directed by Michael Mann, Ali follows the life of Muhammad Ali from 1964 to 1974 including significant events in his life like the Rumble in the Jungle. Will Smith embodies Ali completely from the way he talks down to his boxing style, and with realistic fight scenes (sans fake punch sound effects) Ali is a great depiction of the iconic boxers life.
Raging Bull is a classic film that has some of the most brutal yet artistic boxing scenes ever recorded on film. Taken from the memoir of the boxer Jake LaMotta the film shows the highs and lows of his career and personal life. Raging Bull is shot in black and white and is not only thought of as one of Martin Scorsese’s best films, but also one of the films that helped Robert De Niro showcase what it means to be a method actor by gaining weight for the role.
Million Dollar Baby
Hilary Swank transformation in this 2004 Oscar winning film clearly shows that girls are just as tough as guys. Swank stars as Maggie Fitzgerald, a waitress from a small town who decides to take up boxing which changes her life for the better. Directed by Clint Eastwood who also stars as her no nonsense trainer, Million Dollar Baby is a touching film that shows both an uplifting and heart-breaking journey of a woman who wanted to change her life and become successful.
Deciding between Rocky III and Rocky IV was a little tricky, but ultimately the fourth instalment came out on top. We all know what it’s about, Balboa wants to avenge the death of his friend and former rival Apollo Creed by taking on the gigantic Russian Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Self-doubt, a heated press conference, and the obligatory training montage all make this my favourite boxing film ever.