There may be a shortage of well-paying jobs in America, but one thing there is not a shortage of is boxing movies. There seems to be at least one per year, and they can be a little tough to wade through. To help you out with that, here are seven boxing movies that you do not need a mouthguard to watch.
One of the most recent boxing movies, "The Fighter" came out in 2010 and is a pretty fine example of the form. It is based on the true story of Micky Ward, a fighter from Lowell who against all odds became a champion. It sounds like a Hollywood cliche, but in this case it is all true! The performances are all great, and the boxing scenes are shot with a real intensity. At least one of the fights was even filmed with the real cameras used by HBO to shoot the fight when it really happened! And like all great boxing movies, the scenes outside of the ring are just as interesting if not more so than the ones with all the punching and whatnot.
"Million Dollar Baby"
Many great boxing dramas have a grizzled old man to show the main character the ropes and just generally be awesome. "Million Dollar Baby" has two: Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman, to show young boxer Hillary Swank how it is done. One of those grizzled old men (Eastwood) even directed the movie. "Million Dollar Baby" was pretty controversial when it came out because of its treatment of the subject euthenasia, but deep down it is just a classic boxing movie, albeit not one with the traditional happy ending.
This is the boxing movie that started the whole boxing movie trend. It shows the street-level rise of Rocky Balboa, played in an iconic performance by Sylvester Stallone. The movie's shaggy sensibility is all 1970's, but it has managed to remain a popular classic more than 30 years after its release. Maybe it is the grizzled old man, in this case played by none other than Burgess Meredith.
Most boxing movies are about the above-board world of professional boxing, but how about "Undisputed?" It covers the less glamourous world of prison boxing. From action master Walter Hill, you know this movie has great boxing scenes, and it doe not pull any punches in showing how tough life in a maximum security prison can be.
Here's another boxing movie that opts to show what life is like on the other side of the tracks. After refusing to throw a fight he was supposed to, Robert Ryan is in trouble with the mob. But it is not the mob that stick in the memory as the "bad guys" of the movie. That would be the bloodthirsty members of the crowd at boxing matches. Some boxing movies seem to cater to fans of the sport, but this one almost seems to be saying people who go to boxing matches are sadistic monsters. One wonders what that says about people who go to see boxing movies.
"Somebody Up There Likes Me"
Not all boxing movies are as hard on the sport. Here is a more traditional example of a boxing movie. Paul Newman plays Rocky Graziano, a down-and-out boxer with dreams of the big time. He eventually wins the big fight, gets the girl, et cetera. Sometimes things really do work out.