The 33 Best Boxing Movies of All Time
Pugilists have been popular camera subjects since the start — boxing, at the time, being arguably the most interesting thing you do to another person in public. In the odd century-plus that’s passed since, boxing cinema has evolved past mere punching for spectacle. It’s about personal toil. Training. Strength. Sacrifice. Undying commitment to the physical vision. And then it’s about hitting somebody for money. Or respect, sure.
Tonight’s title bout: The best-reviewed boxing movies ever! In one corner, we have heavyweight classics like Rocky and Raging Bull. In the other, hungry newcomers like Creed and Million Dollar Baby. And in another corner (we have a lot of corners): hard-hitting documentaries, repped by When We Were Kings and Unforgivable Blackness. And, yes, we’re going international in this corner: see Knuckle all the way from Ireland, and China Heavyweight, all the way from, er, China. To be a contender, the movie needed to put up a Fresh rating after 20 reviews, before we ranked them with our weighted formula calculating a film’s Tomatometer score, its number of reviews, and year of release.
Think you got what it takes to take on the champs? Hit ’em where it counts! Hit ’em right in the 33 Best Boxing Movies of All Time! —Alex Vo
Adjusted Score: 64967%
Critics Consensus: While sluggish in spots, Resurrecting the Champ is a sports/newsroom drama elevated by high-caliber performances by Samuel Jackson, Josh Hartnet, and Alan Alda.
Things are not going well for Erik Kernan (Josh Hartnett). Erik, a sports reporter, is stuck covering the bush leagues... [More]
Adjusted Score: 65248%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Muhammad Ali's own audio journals, friends, family and fellow boxers provide insight into the extraordinary life and legendary career of... [More]
Adjusted Score: 68871%
Critics Consensus: It's noticeably subject to the law of diminishing returns, but Rocky III still has enough brawny spectacle to stand in the ring with the franchise's better entries.
Having become the world heavyweight champion, former working-class boxer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is rich and famous beyond his wildest... [More]
Adjusted Score: 66903%
Critics Consensus: Despite a degree of predictability and cliches, the high production values and sincere performances by the leads elevate this coming-of-age story set in Nazi Germany.
An idealistic boxer (Max Riemelt) bonds with an aspiring writer (Tom Schilling) while training at a Nazi academy.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 69662%
Critics Consensus: Silly premise notwithstanding, this is a well-made Hollywood movie: Thrilling and exciting action with just enough characterization.
Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) used to be a prizefighter but lost his chance to win a title when heavy, towering... [More]
Adjusted Score: 74118%
Critics Consensus: Though perhaps no film could fully do justice to the fascinating life and personality of Muhammad Ali, Mann's direction and Smith's performance combine to pack a solid punch.
With wit and athletic genius, with defiant rage and inner grace, Muhammad Ali forever changed the American landscape. Fighting all... [More]
Adjusted Score: 73042%
Critics Consensus: Rocky II is a movie that dares you to root again for the ultimate underdog -- and succeeds due to an infectiously powerful climax.
Although working-class Philadelphia boxer Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) lost his high-profile bout with the cocky world champion Apollo Creed (Carl... [More]
Adjusted Score: 76326%
Critics Consensus: Thanks to muscular work from director/co-writer Max Winkler and his stars, Jungleland punches above its weight in a crowded genre.
When a devastating loss in the ring leaves Lion and his manager/brother Stan in debt to a local crime boss,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 77898%
Critics Consensus: Bleed for This rises on the strength of Miles Teller's starring performance to deliver a solid fact-based boxing drama that takes a few genre clichés on the chin but keeps on coming.
Vinny "The Pazmanian Devil" Pazienza (Miles Teller), a local Providence boxer, shoots to stardom after winning two world title fights.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 81021%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
With the help of a dedicated coach, two teenagers in rural China hope to become successful professional boxers and escape... [More]
Adjusted Score: 80883%
Critics Consensus: The Hammer perseveres as both an above-average sports comedy and a perfect starring vehicle for Carolla.
On his 40th birthday, chronic underachiever Jerry Ferro (Adam Carolla) loses his carpentry job and his girlfriend. However, all is... [More]
Adjusted Score: 85752%
Critics Consensus: Chuck is hit with a handful of sports biopic clichés but ultimately punches above its weight, largely thanks to a muscular performance from Liev Schreiber.
He was the pride of Bayonne, N.J., a man who went 15 rounds in the ring with Muhammad Ali. But... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83881%
Critics Consensus: Implausible but entertaining and poignant, Rocky Balboa finds the champ in fighting form for the first time in years.
Now long-retired, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) runs a Philadelphia eatery and mourns the loss of his beloved wife, Adrian. Yearning to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 84005%
Critics Consensus: The Boxer is a standard drama that packs a true emotional wallop thanks to the highly tuned central performances.
Rising teen boxer and Belfast native Danny Flynn (Daniel Day-Lewis) was imprisoned for 14 years after getting involved with the... [More]
Adjusted Score: 88290%
Critics Consensus: With grittiness and an evocative sense of time and place, Cinderella Man is a powerful underdog story. And Ron Howard and Russell Crowe prove to be a solid combination.
During the Great Depression, ex-boxer James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe) works as a day laborer until his former manager Joe... [More]
Adjusted Score: 87665%
Critics Consensus: Thanks in large part to one of Denzel Washington's most powerful on-screen performances, The Hurricane is a moving, inspirational sports drama, even if it takes few risks in telling its story.
Denzel Washington is Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a man whose dreams of winning the middleweight boxing title were destroyed when he... [More]
Adjusted Score: 83278%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Davey Gordon (Jamie Smith), a New York City boxer aging out of his profession, meets dancer Gloria Price (Irene Kane),... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90972%
Critics Consensus: A fascinating, emotional, and frank confessional from Iron Mike that sheds a sympathetic light on one of boxing's most controversial icons.
Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson reflects on his tumultuous life both in and out of the ring. Filmmaker James... [More]
Adjusted Score: 90569%
Critics Consensus: Michelle Rodriguez gives a compelling performance, despite lack of a boxing background; Karyn Kusama packs a punch with this directorial debut.
Newcomer Michelle Rodriguez in an astounding performance alongside Jaime Tirelli, Paul Calderon and Santiago Douglas. Nothing comes easy for Diana... [More]
Adjusted Score: 91266%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Rosaria Parondi (Katina Paxinou), an impoverished Italian mother, moves to Milan with her close-knit family of five sons to find... [More]
Adjusted Score: 94149%
Critics Consensus: A gritty documentary that captures the brutality and banality of bare-knuckle fights among Irish Travellers.
Two feuding Irish families resolve their differences through bare-knuckle boxing.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102138%
Critics Consensus: Creed II's adherence to franchise formula adds up to a sequel with few true surprises, but its time-tested generational themes still pack a solid punch.
In 1985, Russian boxer Ivan Drago killed former U.S. champion Apollo Creed in a tragic match that stunned the world.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97367%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Champ (Wallace Beery) is a down-on-his-luck boxer in Tijuana whose son, Dink (Jackie Cooper), adores him despite Champ's addictions to... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100368%
Critics Consensus: Led by a trio of captivating performances from Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams, The Fighter is a solidly entertaining, albeit predictable, entry in the boxing drama genre.
For Micky Ward (Mark Wahlberg), boxing is a family affair. His tough-as-nails mother is his manager. His half-brother, Dicky (Christian... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97138%
Critics Consensus: Director John Ford and star John Wayne depart the Western for the Irish countryside, and the result is a beautifully photographed, often comedic romance.
After accidentally killing an opponent in the ring, boxer Sean Thornton leaves America and returns to his native Ireland, hoping... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101329%
Critics Consensus: Clint Eastwood's assured direction - combined with knockout performances from Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman - help Million Dollar Baby to transcend its clichés, and the result is deeply heartfelt and moving.
Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) is a veteran Los Angeles boxing trainer who keeps almost everyone at arm's length, except his... [More]
Adjusted Score: 101581%
Critics Consensus: The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki sidesteps sports biopic clichés with a beautifully filmed, well-acted look at the balance between career fulfillment and personal happiness.
Olli Mäki loses a fight for the world championship in the second round by knockout in front of a packed... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100000%
Critics Consensus: Arguably Martin Scorsese's and Robert De Niro's finest film, Raging Bull is often painful to watch, but it's a searing, powerful work about an unsympathetic hero.
The story of a middleweight boxer as he rises through ranks to earn his first shot at the middleweight crown.... [More]
Adjusted Score: 100605%
Critics Consensus: An engrossing documentary that's as much about a time and a place as it is about a fight.
On October 30, 1974, perhaps the most famous heavyweight championship boxing match of all time took place in Kinshasa, Zaire:... [More]
Adjusted Score: 97502%
Critics Consensus: This story of a down-on-his-luck boxer is thoroughly predictable, but Sylvester Stallone's script and stunning performance in the title role brush aside complaints.
Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), a small-time boxer from working-class Philadelphia, is arbitrarily chosen to take on the reigning world heavyweight... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102102%
Critics Consensus: Fat City is a bleak, mordant, slice of life boxing drama that doesn't pull its punches.
Washed-up boxer Tully (Stacy Keach) is inspired to restart his career after seeing potential in a teenager, Ernie (Jeff Bridges),... [More]
Adjusted Score: 102332%
Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.
Jim Corbett (Errol Flynn) is a bare-knuckles boxer, who is determined to rise above his station. Jim and his friend,... [More]
Adjusted Score: 107340%
Critics Consensus: Creed brings the Rocky franchise off the mat for a surprisingly effective seventh round that extends the boxer's saga in interesting new directions while staying true to its classic predecessors' roots.
Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) never knew his famous father, boxing champion Apollo Creed, who died before Adonis was born.... [More]
(Photo by Clemens Bilan/Getty Images for GQ)
“I came to the conclusion that probably my answers are influenced on what I’m thinking about right now,” says The Zookeeper’s Wife actor Daniel Brühl regarding his Five Favorite Films. “So maybe in a couple of weeks it would be five different films.” Brühl, who also is known for roles in The Bourne Ultimatum, Captain America: Civil War, and Inglourious Basterds, was influenced by current events in Europe while making his picks. “I’ve been talking about Europe so much recently with Europe falling apart: Brexit, all this political discussion.” You can see the complete list here:
Starting chronologically, the oldest one, let’s say, would be To Be or Not to Be — Lubitsch — which to me is a perfect comedy. A flawless comedy with incredible wit and pace and rhythm, and a sense of humor that unfortunately disappeared in Germany, and all these wonderful directors like Lubitsch and Billy Wilder and — God knows — Fritz Lang, and everybody else left. This is such a wonderful film [about] fooling the Nazis — it’s just one of my favorites, and I think I’ve seen it probably more than 20 times. Each time I burst out in laughter, and I’m impressed by it.
Then the films that made me want to become an actor were films that were recommended by my father when I was 16, and I got my first VHS player, and they were very often these French films, Italian films in the ’60s and ’70s, and one of the films that impressed me the most was Rocco and His Brothers. Neo-realism — Rocco and His Brothers with Alain Delon, which is great because it’s told in different chapters. I think five chapters. Telling the story of each of these brothers, of this poor southern Italian family coming to Milan trying to begin a new life, and the authenticity of that neo-realistic Italian filmmaking, is very impressive. Also the drama, the way it is told, and big family issues of rivalry and jealousy and love and hatred are told in a magnificent and very moving way, and with a wonderful young Alain Delon playing Rocco.
Another film with Alain Delon. It’s interesting — probably he was my favorite actor when I was 16, and then I was a bit disappointed of how he changed when he became older. I guess also politically, but that doesn’t matter. As a young man, he played some very enigmatic and wonderful roles. Another favorite film of mine … It’s a genre film, Le Samourai, by Melville. It’s an incredibly cool gangster film. Just the opening, I think, is 20 minutes where not a word is spoken and you always see Alain Delon with his hat and his trench coat. It is just an incredibly stylish and aesthetically wonderfully shot genre gangster film. In German, it’s the Ice Cold Angel, but the Germans always have these funny titles.
Because I’m half Spanish, I want to add a Spanish film, which I think is a film from the ’70s which is called Raise Ravens — I think was the English title. Cria Cuervos, with Geraldine Chaplin. It’s a film by Carlos Saura, a famous Spanish filmmaker. This is a very peculiar film because it’s a ghost story. It’s a young girl [played by Ana Torrent who is fantasizing. You are in the head of a girl the whole time, and it deals with child visions. Nightmares. It’s a very spooky film, but it also reflects very well Spain at the time and of mysteries within families, and mysteries that go on from one generation to the other. It’s a fascinating film that many people don’t know about. That’s why I want to point that one out as well.
Last but not least, I would just also mention a modern film. I was between Force Majure, this Swedish film, but then I thought, “Okay, let’s leave Europe. Let’s go to South America.” The Argentinian film Wild Tales was a film that I enjoyed a lot because it’s different episodes all dealing with revenge. One episode more clever and entertaining than the other. I think [it has] one of the funniest, surreal wedding scenes in film history. Probably my favorite wedding scene in a film ever. Very, very Latin American. Very brave. Muchos cojones. Incredibly smart and clever because revenge is told through so many different angles. Wonderful performances with the lovely Ricardo Darin, who is one of my favorite actors. Leonardo Sbaraglia — another wonderful Argentinian actor. A very powerful, fresh and wonderful film.
Kerr Lordygan for Rotten Tomatoes: You play a Nazi in The Zookeeper’s Wife, but it’s not the first time you’ve played one.
Daniel Brühl: Yeah, I know. We Germans always have that problem. That’s why I was a bit reluctant at first, but then there was something in that story that interested me in my character because I am playing this guy who is a scientist as well that was obsessed by the crazy idea of recreating a Germanic forest and of recreating, re-breeding extinct animals. It’s such a crazy, surreal, stupid idea that the Nazis had. I found it fascinating that there was that man who was seriously convinced to achieve the goal, and so absolved by that Germanic Nazi ideology. I didn’t care about the uniform and playing a Nazi. It was more playing an obsessive, obsessed scientist.
The film deals with animals and the zoo. What I found interesting about my character is actually I’m playing a human being who is losing his human values throughout the story and ends up being a wounded, despicable beast. Sounds very dramatic [laughing].
RT: Sounds like it. And an important story to tell.
Daniel Brühl: Yeah. We had our premiere in Poland and the daughter of Antonina Zabinski, of Jessica Chastain‘s character, was present. The premiere was right where the ghetto was. It was so — for the Polish, especially for the Polish — it was a very important story to be told. It also reminded me, being in Warsaw, of what had happened there. That was quite an emotional moment.
The Zookeeper’s Wife opens on Friday, Mar. 31, 2017 in limited release.
Gael Garcia Bernal may be Mexico’s best known acting export of recent years, having made a powerful debut in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s Amores perros in 2000. A year later he co-starred with Diego Luna (read his five favourites here) in Alfonso Cuaron‘s Y tu mama tambien. After a busy career which has seen him work with the likes of Pedro Almodovar, Michel Gondry and Fernando Meirelles, he reteams with Luna, and a different Cuaron — Carlos — for Rudo and Cursi.
Of his five favourite films, Bernal had an easier time picking them than his co-star — and curiously they’ve both chosen a Disney classic as their first choice — and told us, “These films are definitely a little glimpse on who I am. I could keep going forever to give the full picture. These reflect not only my life but also the work I do.”
“It was the first film I saw and through it I discovered cinema. Simple as that.”
“It was one of the most intense ways of getting into the adult world and I saw it when I was really young. I couldn’t believe that there were stories that were so close to reality. It felt like that, it felt very real.”
“It’s amazing. It’s a story about a family and the whole human drama is there. It’s fantastic.”
“I think that’s when I discovered that the juxtaposition of images is what cinema is all about.”
“It’s a beautiful, beautiful movie. A philosophical introspection on the nature of revolution and change and deciding to be on one side or the other. And it’s about how the outside world makes you decide how to step on one side or the other. It’s possibly one of the most eye-opening films i can ever recommend to anyone because it gives you a glimpse on an internal struggle.”
Rudo and Cursi is out now in UK cinemas.
Director John Singleton lamented that he couldn’t get "Luke Cage" going because the studios just don’t get a black superhero. Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige suggested the problem was much simpler, and less controversial than that.
"We never got a script on Luke Cage while it was at Sony that did it justice from our point of view or John’s point of view," said Feige. "The rights to that have reverted back to Marvel and I would love to do a Luke Cage movie."
Marvel now has their own production company. Their first solo film will be "Iron Man," and they’re looking to diversify. "Looking for ways to continue Marvel movies with fresh content, with slightly different points of view, I think Luke Cage would absolutely fit into that."