Ever since Rocky took the world by storm in 1976, people have been enamored with the idea of an underdog fighting his way to victory. There is something about two people entering an arena and just seeing who is the best. Movies help us find the themes and metaphors we can use for this mentality in our everyday life. If you’re in a funk and then play the Rocky theme, you suddenly become more motivated than ever to get over that mountain called life. With Creed III hitting theaters, it’s a great time to look back at some of the best films in the genre.
Tommy returns home after a stint in the Marines to find his father has cleaned himself up. They begin training for an upcoming MMA tournament offering the sport’s biggest payday. Tommy’s estranged brother Brendan also enters the tournament, and the two end up on a collision course as each fights his way to the top. An interesting MMA film that finds a way to examine the drama of a broken home and how the characters can work toward healing.
A martial arts team is assembled for the United States to compete in a Tae Kwon Do tournament in Korea. Everyone on the team has to put their personal problems aside to co-exist, but that is easier said than done. While they combat the other teams in the tournament, they must also keep an eye on each other. This film is reportedly UFC legend Chuck Liddell’s favorite martial arts movie.
One of my personal favorites on the list. This film is supposed to be based on the true story of an American soldier named Frank Dux. He goes AWOL to enter a secret underground tournament called the Kumite. The world’s best martial arts fighters show up to compete but quickly find that the tournament is serious business. The reigning champion has no problem killing his opponents to keep his title. While Frank dodges officers sent to drag him back to the military, he begins a relationship with an American journalist who wants to report on the famed event. A Jean Claude Van Damme classic that any fight fan should check out. Even though it is kind of a cheese-fest, Bloodsport is still one of the best fighting films of all time.
You’re about to say this is a hockey movie, not a fighting movie. Well, I would say it is actually both. A struggling hockey team is on the verge of closing. The coach/player, Reggie Dunlop, decides how to help the team get attention and a wider audience is to bring in the Hansen brothers. A group of goonish hockey players likes to start fights and cause violence on the ice. It quickly catches on, and the team sees a much-needed boost. The fights in this film are a lot of fun to watch, bringing about its own sort of comedy. Maybe not as serious as Creed III but still a great fighting film.
Diana is close to being kicked out of high school for fighting. She is introduced to the boxing world as she searches for something to grab onto. Her father disapproves, but she finds that she has natural talent as she keeps training. In order to claim her future, she begins to push herself further into the world of boxing and hopes to find everything she’s looking for. This film was Michelle Rodriguez’s first film and put her on the map. This movie actually has a lot in common with Creed III.
Based on the true story of Micky Ward. His older brother Dickie got some boxing acclaim when he faced Sugar Ray Leonard back in 1978. Now Dickie has fallen into a life of drugs and crime but still trains Micky. As Micky sees those around him falling to the wayside, he decides he needs a change if his boxing career will ever move forward. This causes a rift in his family as his mother is his manager, and his brother has been training him. Can he move forward without them?
Another JCVD classic. In this one, he plays Kurt Sloane. He is the corner man for his kickboxing champion brother Eric. Eric ends up paralyzed when he steps into the ring with Tong Po. Kurt thinks Po injured him on purpose and seeks revenge. He wants to train to fight him in the ring, but no one will take him. Finally, he finds an old kickboxing trainer who lives alone in the mountains. His methods are unconventional, but Kurt sticks with it to learn what he needs to avenge his injured brother.
Martial Arts Expert Michael Jai White takes over the title role of George Chambers from Ving Rhames in the first film. Chambers goes to Russia but finds he is sent to prison for bogus drug possession charges. The warden says that if he fights in the underground fighting league within the prison that he will help him get an early release. He turns him down at first but is soon forced to agree. He begins to train to take on the reigning champ with the help of another prisoner who has knowledge of how to win. In order to get out of Russia with his life, he has to win. This underseen movie is great and earns its status as one of the best fighting films.
Maggie wants to train with the best to become a professional boxer and finds legendary trainer Frankie Dunn. At first, he refuses to train her. His personal life has been in tatters as his relationship with his daughter has fallen apart. When he sees she has natural talent, he finally relents. The two form a powerful bond that helps each of them to get what they want most in life.
Champion boxer Billy Hope is on top of the world when his wife is shot during an altercation with another boxer. After her death, Billy begins a spiral of self-destruction, leading to his daughter being taken away from him. He knows he has to rebuild his life and seeks out trainer Tick Wills. If he is going to get his life back on track and get his daughter back, he knows he has to start at the bottom and fight back to the top.
Are you excited about Creed III? What are your favorite fighting films? Let us know in the comments.