Passionately shot over two years on a shoestring budget, ‘Saviours’ captures to perfection the hopes, dreams and disappointments of three boxing fighters in north Dublin, all striving to make the most of their lives inside and outside of the ring… Ever since Raging Bull, boxing has been a major contender in cinema with hundreds of films focusing on the sport – running from the great to grim, the thrilling to chilling, the sublime classics to camp comedies. In honour of the release of ‘Saviours’, Movies.ie looks at some of our favourite boxing movies of all time.
RAGING BULL (1980) Directed by Martin Scorsese
Robert De Niro, in a career-defining performance, plays middleweight champ Jake LaMotta from the height of his fame through his self-destructive decline. Beautifully shot in Black and White, Scorsese’s brutal fight scenes remain definitive, especially with the manipulation of sound and time-lapse from the boxer’s point-of-view. An altogether classic American film.
ROCKY (1976) Directed by John Avildsen
Directed by John G. Avildsen and starring Sylvester Stalone, ‘Rocky’ is where “The Italian Stallion” was born. Rocky Balboa is a aspiring boxer in downtown Philadelphia. His one chance to make a better life for himself is through his boxing. Through a publicity stunt, Rocky is set up to fight Apollo Creed, the current heavyweight champion who is already set to win. Bravery, courage and some stupidity for good measure, ‘Rocky’ remains the ultimate underdog story.
ON THE WATERFRONT (1954) Directed by Elia Kazan
This classic film tells the story of ex-prize fighter Terry “coulda been a contender” Malloy (Marlon Brando) and his struggle against union corruption along the New York waterfront. The film went on to win eight Academy Awards: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Marlon Brando), Supporting Actress, Story & Screenplay, Cinematography, Art Direction-Set Decoration and Editing.
MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004)
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Weighing in with four Oscars to its name is the Clint Eastwood directed movie Million Dollar Baby. An adaptation of F.X. Toole’s gritty stories by Paul Haggis, the film film manages to perfectly captures the boxing zeitgeist through the tragic life of one female boxer (played by Hilary Swank in her finest roles to date.
CINDERELLA MAN (2005) Directed by Ron Howard
Russell Crowe played the almost forgotten Jim Braddock, a fighter of the Great Depression, and powerfully revived his memory. In an inspirational tale that speaks to its era as well as its hero, the film remains underrated. The fight scenes are intense and realistic.
THE HURRICANE (1999)
Directed by Norman Jewison
Directed by Norman Jewison and starring Denzel Washington, ‘The Hurricane’ is the story of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter whose has boxing hopes shattered when he’s wrongly imprisoned for a triple murder… With a first class performance from Denzel, and a powerful story of racism and injustice, ‘The Hurricane’ certainly packs a punch.
CHAMPION (1949) Directed by Mark Robson
The tragic tale of a hard-bitten prizefighter, who rises to the top of his profession but can’t erase the scars of his underprivileged youth. In his struggle to get ahead, middleweight champ Midge Kelly ends up ruthlessly using — and abusing — everyone close to him: his manager, the various women in his life, and, finally, even his crippled brother… Robson’s direction is all action, wasting no time in telling this compelling story, and Carl Foreman’s script is sharply observant of the boxing milieu.
ALI (2001) Directed by Michael Mann
Often overlooked and certainly undervalued, Mann’s boxing epic is a meditation on one of the most controversial and interesting public figures who doesn’t completely realise his importance until that legendary Rumble in The Jungle. Packed with a wealthy of Ali infor, lots of emotional depth, and a triumphant performance by Smith, ‘Ali’ should not be overlooked!
‘Saviours’ is in Irish cinemas from today, October 3rd.