Boxing films have been around for about as long as movies have been produced. Something about seeing the trials and tribulations of boxers in the ring and out of it makes people think about their lives. It is very difficult to come up with a short list of the best boxing movies that have been put out over the years, but we are taking a crack at it. We created this list of the top five movies about boxing in the modern era. We didn't include older films, but these five are very much worth exploring for their contribution to the perception of the sport.
Rocky is one of the most amazing stories of all-time in the world of cinema, about a fringe character dealing with very typical blue-collar struggles who manages to rise up, because of his willpower and grit which stands out in the world of pro boxing. Rocky isn’t a smart guy, IQ wise, and he’s past what most people would consider his prime. But fate smiles on Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone; the champ, Apollo Creed, a Muhammad Ali type character, wants a match against a foil who isn't a threatening challenge, but will appeal to the consumers, because he is Caucasian.
The film explores themes of poverty, love, and dedication, but it doesn’t shoehorn a win for the titular character. Instead, he has to remain hungry enough to seek out another fight for a chance at winning the title!
2. Creed II
This is another great film from the same universe as Rocky. The story centers on Apollo Creed’s son, Adonis, as he struggles to claim a spot in the world of professional boxing. The story takes on a unique edge since it includes the Ivan Drago character, from the fourth Rocky film along with his son, Viktor Drago. The film explores the concepts of fatherhood, forgiveness, and endurance. Moreover, the film includes Tessa Thompson as Adonis’ girlfriend Bianca Taylor. Tessa came out as a bisexual woman before Creed II hit the theaters, so that element added to the publicity push for the film.
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3. Raging Bull
After Rocky had taken the world by storm, Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci starred in Raging Bull, a 1980 film about Jake LaMotta and his rise to fame before crashing into a fit of rage and debauchery.
This movie is absolutely incredible for the dedication of the filmmaker, Martin Scorsese, along with the lead actors. The film saw De Niro getting fit, gaining weight, and undergoing incredible acting scenes throughout the film. This movie helped cement the legacy of all future boxing films.
The film Ali starred Will Smith, who undertook the enormous task of bringing the icon for the ages Muhammad Ali to the silver screen. The film came out back in 2001 and details the life of the young Cassius Clay, and then Muhammad Ali, after he changed his name and became a political activist, as he dealt with the pressure of moving up the pro ranks, the racism he faced along the way, and sorting out his own personal beliefs.
At varying times in his life, Ali was banned from boxing, went through breakups, and drew heat for his outspokenness. Will Smith played the part of Ali very well and gave the audience a gleaming insight into what it meant to be one of the greatest boxers of all time.
5. Million Dollar Baby
Not many movies have been made about female boxers, and Million Dollar Baby might be the best of them. In this film, Hillary Swank stars as an amateur boxer who is taught how to fight by the old curmudgeon, Clint Eastwood. This film is not based on a real situation but creates a relationship between the fighter and trainer that is so real that the film is absolutely heart-breaking to the viewer.
The 2004 movie shows the rise and fall of this lady, who wants to succeed as a boxer and reminds us that the price of participation in “the sweet science” can be immense.
Many boxing movies have been made over the last several decades, and it should come as no surprise that some exemplars stand higher than others. In the modern age, these five films are the ones that every boxing lover should check out. You won't see better depictions of the difficulties associated with being in the ring and also the majesty of ring triumphs in these releases. Moreover, you will get a stunning portrayal of the people behind the athletes.