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Sports Movie Madness: Boxing Movies – Round 1

***DEADLINE EXTENDED until 5 pm on Sunday!

Round 1 it is! *Ding Ding*
Hello everyone and welcome to Player Affinity’s Sports Movie Madness! Everyone
likes a little competition and with the NCAA in full swing and everyone’s NHL
hockey pools quickly coming to an end why should movies be excluded? Nobody
likes being picked last. Over the course of the next couple weeks, you will
have the chance to vote for your favorite sports movies out of a field of 64.
It continues right along with our list of best boxing films.

In the Sports Movie
Madness tournament, there are seven sports and one mega-category of
miscellaneous sports, so eight regions total. This is the Boxing Region. Below
are the eight boxing films we deemed most worthy of our tournament. There are
four matchups based on these seedings and your job is to pick which movie you
deem worthy of winning each matchup. Simply enter a comment by Saturday at
11:59 pm with the four movies you are picking to move on (once again, not any
four movies, but one of the two movie going up against each other, so no voting
for Rocky and Cinderella Man, only one or the other) and your votes count! Each
region will have three rounds and then the winner of each sport region will
face off against the other sports until we have a winner!

Even though boxing is far
from the most widely viewed sports, it by far has some of the very best
cinematic adaptations. From underdogs to champs to seemingly washed up
long-shots, few genres are able to boast such a steady stream of inspirational
tales as does boxing. Here are our matchups, in the red corner, blue corner and
all colors of the rainbow (and yes I’m aware that makes no sense), so pick your

1 Rocky
2 Million Dollar Baby
3 Raging Bull
4 The Fighter
5 The Hurricane
6 Rocky II
7 Ali
8 Cinderella Man

rockypic1 Rocky vs. 8 Cinderella Man

Not only one of the very
first mainstream boxing films, Rocky arguably still remains the
most famous. Spawning a whopping five sequels not including a re-issue of Rocky III (don’t ask me why that came
about) and taking in a combined $556 million dollars in North American alone,
it’s difficult to find a more recognizable brand, especially considering the
so-so performance of the sports genre. What makes the original the classic it is
does not simply lie with the ample fine performances and heart-racing fights
but the ending, and the perfect blend of bittersweet glory by which it is
accompanied. The recipient of both the Best Director and coveted Best Picture trophies
and with Stallone becoming only the third person in history to be nominated for
both an acting and screenwriting Oscar, its rise to fame was just as
inspirational at the hardened but lovable hero at the films center.

cindpicTaking a step back to
New York, Ron Howard’s gritty period
piece finds a real-life boxer in the form of James J. Braddock at the center of
Cinderella Man.
Howard has dappled in so many genres it is quite astounding the continued
success that has befallen the man, though this was far from the Academy
favourite it was intended to be. This look back at the earlier years of the sport
benefits from a multitude of fine performances (of which Paul Giamatti received
a nod for Best Supporting Actor) and well executed matches. Conventional, as
many entries in this sub-genre are, but rousing enough to leave your viewing
with a smile.


 millionpic2 Million Dollar Baby vs. 7 Ali

As inspiration as the type
of film demands, but as tragic as anything Clint Eastwood has directed, this
star-studded entry sent the boxing movie tropes for enough of a stumble, and
collected enough powerhouse performances for many to crown Million Dollar Baby as a
modern masterpiece. The aforementioned twist in this particular entry is that
the protagonist is not a muscle-clad working man but rather a female waitress
(Hillary Swank) determined to prove she is the equal of her male counterparts. Eastwood
also stars as the initially hesitant and consistently gruff trainer of Swank’s
Margaret as she rising from simple beginnings to a fateful final match. Million Dollar Baby is a tad bleaker
than most boxing flicks, but it stands out because of it thanks in no small
part to the strong performance at its core.

At a whopping 157 minutes,
the greatest weakness of
Ali is its bloated length, so thank
Will Smith and his Oscar-nominated

performance for making Michael Mann’s
sprawling epic about the legendary Muhammad Ali the lasting genre classic it
is. A notorious flop at the time (long before Smith became the box office
behemoth he is today) the lead actor nevertheless sheds his A-list skin and
immerses himself in the role and simply owns every frame of the production. A
straight-shot rise to fame fable
chronicles the early days to his glory days of who is still perhaps the most
famed conqueror of the sport. Essential viewing for any fan of the genre, but a
difficult movie to watch in passing, this biopic does ultimately stand the test
of time now one decade later.


 ragingpic3 Raging Bull vs. 6 Rocky II

To spell out all of the
“bests” associated with Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull could easily consume the
entire length of this post so let me give but a few: the best sports movie of
all time, the best film by the director, the best performance by its lead
Robert De Niro and perhaps most importantly for this specific category, this
film is widely considered to be the best boxing film of all time. De Niro’s
obscene wait gain during the course of filming to go from former champ to aging
club owner has been praised and praised again but his transcendently disturbing
performance throughout as former middleweight champion Jake La Motta (a man as
violent outside of the ring as in) is utterly transfixing. Raging Bull could be considered the career peak of both director
and thespian and is required viewing for a fan of the genre or otherwise.

rockyiipicThe conventional tale that
the original was not,
Rocky II nevertheless succeeds again
due to the lead performance by Stallone and the audience’s inherent desire to
see this underdog finally get his meal. The beginning of the more commercial
leanings of the franchise, ultimately away from Oscar gold, this sequel truly
cemented Rocky Balboa as one of the greatest film icons of all time, not to
mention propel Sly to a new stratosphere of fame.
Rocky II explores some interesting facets associated with fame,
chiefly how out of his element a formerly poor, uneducated man from Philly
handles his newfound wealth. Though it may not hold a candle to its
Rocky II captured the
inspirational spirit not
until some three decades later.


 fighterpic4 The Fighter vs. 5 The Hurricane

With truly an all-star
cast, two of which were Oscar winners just this ceremony past, what
proves is there is always room for more entries in a cluttered
genre if the product is up to snuff. Thanks to director David O. Russell’s
uniquely authentic presentation of the boxing sequences and a stunning
supporting performance (Christian Bale as the aforementioned recipient of Best
Supporting Actor) which in more cases than one upstages lead Mark Wahlberg as
Mickey “Irish” Ward, leaves this production (though by-the-numbers) an instant
favourite among the masses. In many ways it is almost more of a testament for a
film to overcome its genre clichés by embracing them than attempting to
awkwardly sidestep the tropes. In any case,
fits right in with the fine list of films we have accumulated

hurricanepicLike Ali, The Hurricane takes its central blockbuster star, this time
Denzel Washington as Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, and completely masks
the glitter usually associated, and like Will Smith,
Washington took home an Oscar nod because of
it. Unlike many films on this list however, this entry essentially puts the
sport on the proverbial backburner as it tells the tale not of his success in
the ring but his wrongful imprisonment for a triple murder. Criticisms have
been raised since the films release regarding apparent falsities presented about
Carter’s case but in such a tale it ultimately becomes a moot point. If fans of
the boxing genre can embrace the common plot threads that exist through most of
these offerings, then certainly they can overlook the
treatment for a film that tries something a little different.




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