Warrior is out this week and if you didn’t see it in cinemas you should give it a watch now as it really was one of the best films from 2011; a stirring sports story that ticks all the boxes you’d want from a piece of entertainment.

So in conjunction with its release we thought we would celebrate similar sports stories that stuck in our mind. Read on to remember some old favourites or find out about films you hadn’t seen!


5. The Wrestler

…looking for redemption…

The Wrestler is Darren Aronofsky’s terrific tale of Mickey Rourke’s Randy “The Ram” Robinson looking for redemption in the ring. Mickey Rourke lost out on winning the Oscar in 2008 to Sean Penn but he gave a remarkable performance coming back from career purgatory and reminding everyone that he wasn’t finished yet (a regular theme in sports films). It’s not the wrestling you’re familiar with if you like WWE; here it’s gritty, raw and unglamorous; showing a side of the sport that doesn’t get much love from the movies.


4. The Fighter

…great performances…

One of the major Oscar contenders from last year winning two awards from last year’s ceremony (finally giving Christian Bale the award). The Fighter is the film that Warrior shares a lot of similarities with: family problems, chemical abuse and a fight that brings the family together. It’s your bog-standard sports film but it’s excellently done with great performances based on real-life people.


3. Never Back Down

…finding your place…

You wouldn’t call Never Back Down a ‘good’ film but it is loads of fun. It has shades of Rocky as Jake Tyler (Sean Faris) arrives at his new high school and comes into conflict with Cam Gigandet’s spoilt rich boy Ryan McCarthy. He finds a mentor in a mixed martial arts veteran (Djimon Honsou) who looks to instil him with discipline. Like a lot of teen films it’s about finding your place in the world, family issues, blah, blah, blah… all you want to see is the action, right?! Never Back Down has it spades with some tense confrontations and some brutal beat-downs.


2. Redbelt

…into the world of MMA…

Overlooked on its release back in 2008, Redbelt comes from the surprising source of David Mamet: more known for his verbiage and tendency to produce incendiary performances from his actors, here he delves into the world of MMA with interesting results. Like Warrior, at the heart of this film is a tournament that brings mixed-martial arts instructor Mike Terry (spell-check fiend Chiwetel Ejiofor) into the ring (or onto the mat?) to win the competition and pay off his debts. Underrated, Redbelt isn’t a conventionally told “fighting” film but it is a very watchable one.


1. The Karate Kid

…eighties classic…

What list about fighting wouldn’t have the seminal The Karate Kid? An eighties classic that hasn’t lost much of its lustre in the intervening years, the wax on, wax off speech is still quoted today.


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