Working with Hollywood is an extremely lucrative venture in the USA. Earning millions of dollars for actors and actresses is nothing surprising at all. There are many genres of films that capture the attention of viewers all across the planet. Gone are the days of VCR or people waiting to see a film on TV. Now, either get a DVD from your nearest store or go online for movie mania. Here, we go through the list of the ten best kickboxing movies ever without any order of priority.
Raging Bull - 1980
This was a sports drama movie based on the memoir: Raging Bull - My Story, 1970. It was directed by the talented Martin Scorsese and produced by Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler. It gathered positive reviews from critics while grossing 23.4 million dollars with a budget of 18 million dollars.
Jake eyes Vickie, a 15-year-old girl at a swimming pool and has an illicit relationship with her. 2 years later, they get married. He worries a lot about his wife having feelings for others. He goes to his brother, Joey’s house and assaults him openly. Alienated from Joey, his career begins to go down slowly and he loses to Sugar Ray Robinson his title in the last contest. Later, he is arrested for bringing too young girls to his club for exciting men. He is jailed. Upon getting free, he meets Joey who pardons him but remains aloof. Jake complains that Joey should’ve been there for his support. After he is informed where he is supposed to perform that the crowd is full, he chants, "I am the boss”.
Raging Bull managed to win nominations for 8 Academy Awards which included Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography and Best Sound & Editing in 1980. Eventually, it did win 2 awards. Los Angeles Film Critics Association rated it as the best movie of 1980 and De Niro as the best actor. National Board of Review ranked De Niro and Pesci as the best actor & best-supporting actor. Golden Globes awarded De Niro as best actor whereas Chapman won the Best Cinematography award from the National Society of Film Critics. Raging Bull was chosen as the opener of the Berlin International Film Festival, 1981. In 2012, screenwriter Mardik Martin was honored by Parajanov Vartanov Institute Award for iconic films like “Raging Bull” and “Mean Streets”.
South Paw - 2015
South Paw is a movie filled with sports-oriented-drama. Directed by Antoine Fuqua and produced by an entire team of talented professionals, it gathered mixed reviews from critics. This film managed to gross 92 million dollars with a budget of 30 million dollars. It is certainly one of the greatest movies on kickboxing.
Billy Hope is an unbeaten pro boxer residing in New York with his family. During a match, he gets a severe eye injury and strong blows on face and body due to which he is coughing up blood. His wife convinces him to retire before it gets even worse. At a charity event, his opponent boxer Escobar threatens to take his wife and title away. His anger dominates him leading to a fight due to which his wife is by mistake shot dead by Hector, Escobar's brother. Billy starts being immersed in drugs and alcohol with an obsession to find Hector. He assaults a referee after a fight and gets suspended leaving him with no money for a year and a huge fine. Then the networks sue him leaving Billy in debt with belongings and house repossessed. He nearly dies in a suicide attempt due to which Leila cuts off ties with her father.
Billy gets a job as a gym cleaner while trying to convince the gym’s owner who is a seasoned boxer to become his trainer. His previous manager arranges a contest between him and Escobar. Seeing his hard work at the job and his fulfillment of responsibilities as a father, a judge decides to remove his restrictions. Leila asks him if she can attend the fight but is allowed to remain in the locker room watching it through closed-circuit TV. The match is very exciting and in the round’s final minute, Billy gives a very strong left uppercut knocking down the champion. He is declared the winner. He reunites with Leila while they embrace and forgive each other.
Cinderella Man - 2005
Cinderella Man was directed by Ron Howard and produced by him, Brian Grazer and Penny Marshall. It got mixed reviews from critics grossing 108.5 million dollars with a budget of 88 million dollars.
James Braddock, a boxer from New Jersey, is forced to quit boxing after his hand gets broken in the ring. Interestingly, it is simultaneously a burden and relief to Mae, his wife. She hates the violence in this profession but knows they won’t have money without it. Braddock gets involved in labor as a longshoreman for earning but, sadly, is unable to work every day. Due to a cancellation by some boxer in the last minute, Braddock's manager offers him an opportunity to perform for one night only and make a lot of cash. The battle is with Corn Griffin, world’s No. 2. Braddock amazes everyone with a 3rd round knockout of Corn. Although Mae objects to it, he accepts the offer to return to boxing. He continues to win. Sportswriter Damon Runyon labels him "The Cinderella Man". He represents the aspirations and hopes of Americans trying to struggle with the Depression.
An epic fight on its way is against Baer who has killed 2 men during fights and is so deadly that Braddock is warned in advance. He, however, shows no fear at all. On June 13, one of the biggest boxing upsets in history takes place in 1935. Braddock conquers his apparently invincible opponent to attain a heavyweight championship of the world. It is revealed in an epilogue that he lost the title to Joe Louis and then helped in the building of Verrazano Bridge as owner and operator of heavy machinery on a place where he worked during his Depression days. He along with Mae utilized the income earned from boxing for buying a house in which they lived happily ever after.
Creed - 2015
Creed, a drama-filled with sports was directed by Ryan Coogler and produced by an epic team of seasoned producers including Sylvester Stallone himself. It got mixed reviews from critics grossing 173.6 million dollars with a budget of 35-40 million dollars. Without a doubt, it deserves a part of this eminent list.
Donnie resigns from his job to follow dreams of becoming a pro boxer. He auditions in Los Angeles but is rejected. He travels to Philadelphia to get in touch with Rocky Balboa. He asks Rocky to train him. Rocky eventually agrees. Donnie defeats a local boxer and the news spreads that he is Apollo Creed's illegitimate son. Rocky offers Donnie to become his final challenger if he would alter his name to Adonis Creed. Donnie eventually agrees.
While training, Rocky learns that Adonis is inflicted with a disease. Adonis is not willing to undergo treatment. He fights Conlan in Liverpool. A lot of similarities come up between this contest and Apollo’s first fight with Rocky 40 years before. Conlan knocks down Adonis who, in return, recovers to knock down Conlan for the first time. Donnie continues to fight courageously but Conlan eventually secures a victory based on a split decision exactly like Apollo had once retained his title against Rocky in the past. Still, Adonis manages to win the respect of Conlan and the entire audience which prompts Max Kellerman to use the historic words while covering for HBO that if Conlan had won the fight, Creed had won the night. Conlan says to Adonis that he is certainly light heavyweight division’s future.
The movies finish dramatically with Adonis and a weak yet heroic Rocky climbing steps outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s entrance. This last scene sums up exactly what Max had said at HBO. Not a movie to be missed at all costs if you are a kickboxing fan.
Rocky III - 1982
Rocky III was directed by actor Sylvester Stallone and produced by Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff. This film got mixed reviews from critics grossing 270 million dollars. Any kickboxing lover would put it in the list of best movies. Not only this but for music lovers, there is a treat with the 80’s epic hit rock anthem, “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. No gym session is complete without this great song in your ears.
Rocky Balboa has a run of 10 successful defenses of his title. His celebrity status has increased a lot. While revealing his statue at the Philadelphia Museum of Art before retirement, he is challenged in the public by Lang, the best contender. He doesn’t want to retire and knows he did not even defend his title against top opponents. Rocky and Lang meet at Philadelphia's Spectrum for an epic encounter. It starts with Rocky knocking out Lang after multiple big blows. Lang recovers and then dominates Rocky, knocks him down in the 2nd round and wins the heavyweight championship. Rocky is overcome by sadness due to his coach, Mickey's death.
Creed offers help in training Rocky for another match with Lang to which Rocky agrees. The battle occurs at Madison Square Garden. Rocky fully dominates the 1st round. However, Lang dominates the second round. Rocky adopts a special strategy that shocks Creed. He willingly gets beaten by Lang who is accustomed to winning quickly with early knockouts. Lang gets tired swiftly in vain attempts to further knockout Rocky who then continues to dodge and block cleverly. Since Lang is distressed and susceptible, Rocky grabs the chance fully to demolish Lang with a burst of punches ending in a vicious knockout and, thus, reclaims the heavyweight championship. Later, Rocky, to fulfill favor of Apollo, has a private match with Lang at his late coach's gym but they are only fighting with the spirit of friendship and not any fierce competition at all. The movie ends with both boxers throwing first punches at exactly the same time.
The Fighter - 2010
The Fighter was directed by David O. Russell and produced by a crew of talented and expert producers. This film managed to get positive reviews from critics as well as multiple awards. It grossed 129.2 million dollars with a budget of 25 million dollars. It is internationally recognized as one of the top kickboxing movies of all time.
Micky Ward is a boxer from Massachusetts. During the night of a fight, his scheduled rival turns ill and is replaced by someone twenty pounds bigger than him. He is defeated and later goes into hiding. Micky is tempted by his father to go back into boxing. He is first placed in minor fights for regaining confidence. Then, he is given the offer of a major contest against an upcoming champion. Micky triumphs and earns the title.
Upon getting released from jail, Dicky (his brother) along with his mother go to see Micky doing training. Dicky plans to spar with Micky who, instead, tells him he is not allowed to do so according to his agreement with the team. Micky spars with Dicky knocking him down. They reach London for a major fight with the welterweight champion. Micky defeats his opponent to secure the title. Some years later, Dicky credits Micky as being the creator of his success. The brothers in real life joke as the film ends.
The Fighter attained nominations for 7 Academy Awards which included Best Picture; it managed to win 2 of them. At the Golden Globe Awards, it was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor & Best Director. It got 3 nominations for Chicago Film Critics Awards including Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Thus, accolades and recognition came easy for “The Fighter”.
Ali - 2001
Ali is what you really call a genuine sports drama movie. Directed by Michael Mann and produced by Michael Mann, Jon Peters, James Lassiter, and others, this film had mixed reviews from critics. It grossed 87.7 million dollars and would be on any list of greatest kickboxing movies of all time as it is about Muhammad Ali, arguably the most influential, acclaimed, admired and inspirational boxer ever.
The movie starts with Cassius Clay making his debut in the championship against Sonny Liston, the then heavyweight champ. He dominates the battle and before 7th round, becomes the 2nd youngest heavyweight champ. He is welcomed at the home of Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam. He is given the name of Muhammad Ali. Ali has another go against Sonny and knockouts him in the 1st round. Ali refuses to fight with the US in the Vietnam War and, thus, loses his passport, boxing license, and title besides being imprisoned for 5 years. After a hiatus of 3 years, his ban is lifted and he wins on the basis of technical knockout in his comeback match against Jerry Quarry.
Ali tries to reclaim the championship in “Fight of the Century” against Joe Frazier who defeats him in the 15th round. Frazier then loses the championship to George Foreman who later faces Ali in “Rumble in the Jungle” fight. Ali leans against the ropes covering up and lets Foreman throw punches. While fighting, Ali realizes if he doesn’t react faster, he will be defeated or even die. Foreman gets tired as the rounds go on and Ali takes full advantage of it. He knocks out Foreman and the movie ends with Ali reclaiming Heavyweight Championship which he was earlier denied.
Million Dollar Baby - 2004
Million Dollar Baby rightly comes under the film genre of sports drama. Clint Eastwood was the man behind direction with a production featuring himself, Tom Rosenberg, Paul Haggis, and Albert S. Ruddy. Winning several awards, this movie deservingly received positive reviews from critics and masses alike. It managed to gross 216.8 million dollars with a budget of 30 million dollars. No compilation of best kickboxing movies will be complete without this great film.
Desiring to be trained by the best ones around, Maggie Fitzgerald wants Frankie Dunn to fulfill her dreams of becoming a professional boxer. Frankie bluntly says “No” as he is not interested in coaching a female. He has a lonely life, separated from his daughter with only a few friends. Maggie is initially obviously rough in playing but continues displaying a lot of bravery while practicing due to which Frankie finally agrees to teach her boxing. Maggie surprises him by becoming not only the kind of boxer he dreamed of making but also a friend who can fill the vacuum Frankie has had as a loner. The boxing career of Maggie reaches the sky but, in the ring, an unpredictable accident provokes her to ask him for the last favor.
The Hurricane - 1999
The Hurricane is another epic sports drama movie. It was Norman Jewison’s direction and besides him, John Ketcham’s and Armyan Bernstein’s wonderful production. It received exciting reviews from critics and masses alike, grossing 74 million dollars with a budget of 50 million dollars. Released in 1999, it is still very widely watched and cherished by viewers and fans all across the world even today, 20 years later. Thus, no wonder, it is fully celebrated in this special list of the best movies on kickboxing ever made.
This movie depicts the story of an African American man named Rubin Carter who managed to rise above an injured youth becoming a top competitor for the middleweight boxing title. But his aspirations are totally shattered since he is accused and convicted of 3 murders. Despite becoming a controversial figure attracting a lot of public attention with continuous efforts to endorse his innocence including an autobiography, these fruitless years make him extremely discouraged. This is changed when a boy and his mentors read his book and become convinced that he is innocent and, eventually, strive for his release. But Carter and friends learn that this struggle puts them in opposition to a racist organization that benefited from this farce and has no desire to reverse the false decision.
Rocky – 1976
Granting a wonderful experience of a sports drama film, Rocky was directed by John Avildsen and produced by Robert Chartoff as well as Irwin Winkler. This movie did rightly receive from critics positive reviews while also winning multiple awards to further establish its credentials. The film grossed 225 million dollars with a budget of 1 million dollars. If you are really into kickboxing, don’t miss this film at all.
Rocky Balboa is an ordinary boxer living in a small apartment in Philadelphia. His career has not yet taken off at all. He earns his livelihood by amassing debts for Gazzo who thinks he doesn’t have what it takes to fix deadbeats. He does box occasionally to sharpen his skills. His former coach, Mickey strongly believes he would have made it even to the top if he had worked hard for it. Rocky visits a shop selling pet supplies where he ends up meeting Adrian, a young lady who is very shy and totally without the confidence to speak freely with men. They befriend each other.
Adrian’s brother is employed at a meatpacking company. He is excited at the prospects of someone taking interest in Adrian who surprisingly spends Thanksgiving with her new friend, Rocky. They both go to his apartment where despite Adrian’s hesitation, fears and innocence, they make love to each other. Apollo Creed, the world’s heavyweight champion wants to give an unknown boxer a shot at the title. He searches for someone in the Philadelphia scene and picks Rocky. Fight promoter sets things inflow and Rocky begins to engage in serious training with Mickey again. After a lot of hard work, he is perfectly ready for the fight and aims to prove he can certainly go the distance in his boxing battle with the dominating Apollo.