To celebrate the release of Creed II which arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on March 25th 2019 we’re taking a look at the five greatest boxing films of all time.
CREED (2015) & CREED II (2018)
Creed (2015) follows Adonis ‘Donnie’ Johnson (Michael B. Jordan), the son of the legendary fighter Apollo Creed, on his journey to becoming a professional boxer. Michael B. Jordan, who spent an entire year getting in shape for the part, is joined on screen by Sylvester Stallone who reprised his famous role as Rocky Balboa for the film. Creed was a huge box-office hit as well as a critical success with a 95% ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Stallone received his first Academy Award nomination since the original Rocky (1976) for his performance as well as picking up both a Golden Globe and a Critics’ Choice Award.
Creed II (2018) picks up three years later after Donnie’s career has skyrocketed, opening with Donnie winning the World Heavyweight Championship. With his newfound success however, Donnie finds himself caught between personal obligations and his career, and the pressure only intensifies when he is challenged by Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the son of the man who killed his father. Creed II surpassed the success of Creed raking in a staggering 213 million dollars at the box-office. The film has been praised for its nuanced character development, having built on the foundations laid in the first film.
No round-up of the greatest boxing films would be complete without the cult classic Rocky (1976). Written by Sylvester Stallone who also stars as the titular character, Rocky was the highest-grossing film of 1976, winning three Oscars and turning Stallone into an international star. The film tells the story of Rocky Balboa, an Italian-American debt collector and part-time boxer who gets his shot at the big time when he gets the chance to take on Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) and compete for the world heavyweight title. Rocky was hugely influential and a further seven films followed the original including Creed and Creed II. References to the film can be found in everything from The Simpsons to Shaun the Sheep.
MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004)
Million Dollar Baby (2004) was directed by Clint Eastwood and stars Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman. The film follows Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank), a small-town waitress who is determined, at the age of 33, to become a professional boxer. She finds her way to the Hit Pit, a run-down boxing gym managed by Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) and repeatedly asks him to train her. Frankie initially refuses, claiming she is ‘too old’ and that he ‘doesn’t train girls’ but eventually gives in to her persistence. The rest of the film charts the development of their relationship as they each navigate extremely difficult personal lives, with Maggie eventually becoming a daughter-figure to Frankie. The famously upsetting ending makes Million Dollar Baby a truly unforgettable watch. The film initially struggled to find financial backing but went on to be a box-office smash hit, earning both Best Picture and Best Actress at the 2005 Academy Awards.
Ali (2001) is a biographical drama starring Will Smith that charts ten years in the life of the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali. The film begins with twenty-two year-old Ali’s defeat of the world heavyweight champion Sonny Liston, before showing the tumultuous years that followed in which Ali was arrested and stripped of his boxing titles due to his opposition to the Vietnam War. Will Smith gives a towering performance as Ali for which he received his first nomination for an Academy Award and while the film had limited success at the box office it drew copious praise from critics. Ali gives a fascinating insight into the life of one of the most remarkable sportsmen of the 20th century.
RAGING BULL (1980)
Raging Bull (1980) was directed by Martin Scorsese and is regarded as one of his greatest works. It stars Robert De Niro as Jake LaMotta, an Italian-American middleweight boxer prone to extreme bouts of rage who becomes fixated upon the idea that his wife is cheating on him. The film charts LaMotta’s downward spiral from world middleweight champion to convict, showing LaMotta both in his prime and later in his life after he had retired from boxing. De Niro gained an astonishing 60 pounds in order to film these later scenes. The film won two Academy Awards for Best Editing and Best Actor despite initially receiving mixed reviews (in part due to its violent content). In 1990 it became the first film to enter the National Film Registry in its first year of eligibility.
CREED II IS OUT ON 4K ULTRA HD, BLU-RAY™, DVD AND DVD/BLU-RAY™ BOX SET on 25th MARCH, 2019