Depicting boxing is a tradition of cinema which traces back to its zoetrope days (echoing the medium’s working class appeal), and in this week’s gallery we look through this history for 24 thoroughly Fresh boxing films.
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.
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.
Critics Consensus: Crass and curiously low-energy, The Hammer ultimately perseveres as both an above-average sports comedy and a perfect starring vehicle for Carolla.
Critics Consensus: Implausible but entertaining and poignant, Rocky Balboa finds the champ in fighting form for the first time in years.
Critics Consensus: With grittiness and an evocative sense of time and place, Cinderella Man is a powerful underdog story.
Million Dollar Baby
Critics Consensus: Clint Eastwood’s assured direction – combined with knockout performances from Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman – help Million Dollar Baby to transcend its cliches, and the result is deeply heartfelt and moving.
Critics Consensus: Michelle Rodriguez gives a compelling performance, despite lack of a boxing background; Karyn Kusama packs a punch with this directorial debut.
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.
Critics Consensus: The Boxer is a standard drama that packs a true emotional wallop thanks to the highly tuned central performances.
When We Were Kings
Critics Consensus: An engrossing documentary that’s as much about at time and a place as it is about a fight.
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.
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.
A Depression-era throwback featuring Charles Bronson as a bare-knuckle boxer looking to take the top prize in new Orleans.
Critics Consensus: Fat City is a bleak, mordant, slice of life boxing drama that doesn’t pull its punches.
Requiem For A Heavyweight
Working from a Rod Serling script, Anthony Quinn plays an aging boxer who risks going blind if he steps back into the ring.
Somebody Up There Likes Me
Paul Newman stars in this biopic of a teenage Rocky Graziano who punches his way up through society from the slums.
The Harder They Fall
Humphrey Bogart goes through the emotional wringer as a journalist wrestling with how to cover a fixed match.
Stanley Kubrick’s second feature is a seedy noir following a boxer’s quest to free a nightclub dancer.
The Quiet Man
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.
Real time boxing movie starring Robert Ryan as a pugilist who has 72 minutes to decide whether he’ll take a dive in him imminent match.
Body and Soul
Average story, but John Garfield’s star performance and James Wong Howe’s inside-ring handheld camera work prepped this one for the history books.
Errol Flynn swings off the pirate mast and into athlete’s cotton for this biopic of Hall of Famer James J. Corbett.
Here Comes Mr. Jordan
A boxer (Robert Montgomery) dies prematurely and is sent back to Earth to inhabit another recently deceased body, and begins the journey of whipping it into fighting form.
A washed-up boxer (Wallace Beery) travels to Tijuana with his son in hopes of staging a life-or-death comeback.