5 Non- Boxing Fight Movies


Posted by in November's Magazine

Raging Bull, Fat City, Midnight Sting, The Fighter and Rocky 1 to 316 (God only knows when Stallone will call it a day), boxing dramas have always dominated the ‘fight movie’ genre as they offer not only excitement but genuine emotional drama as well. Typically a male dominated category, with regards to both character portrayal and audience, they are not just about two men in a ring beating seven shades of shit out of each other. Much like the sport they are about, honour, pride, overcoming fear, commitment, sacrifice and self-discovery will feature. Yet boxing is not the only form of unarmed combat that allows cinema to showcase these virtues. When the latest Tom Hardy vehicle Warrior came out I thought it would be a good opportunity to look at the top 5 fighting movies that don’t revolve around boxing, and see what they had to offer us.

Warrior (2011)
The story of two estranged brothers who enter a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) contest to win $5million dollars makes for one of the most dramatic and entertaining films of this year. The reasons I was excited upon its release were 1) I’m a huge MMA fan and was delighted that the sport was finally being portrayed on screen in a realistic manner, and 2) I have a slight ‘man crush’ on Tom Hardy. Equally as thrilling and emotional as last year’s The Fighter, Warrior boasts excellent performances from both Hardy and co-leading man Joel Edgerton as the alienated brothers in question. A fantastic split screen training montage accompanied by a kick-ass soundtrack and a furious final fight tournament, help break the monotony of the generic training scenes and 12 round climax most boxing films offer. You’ll come away pumped and elated; then fall in to a depression when you realise you could never achieve Hardy’s six-pack if you tried.

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Blood Sport (1988)
Long before he was talking about his ice-cold nipples to promote beer that tastes like piss, Jean-Claude Van Damme was known the world over for making movies that showed off his bare buttocks and a tear-jerking ability to do the splits. There is no film that flaunts this better than Blood Sport. The ‘true’ story of Frank Dux – a U.S. soldier who enters an illegal underground fighting tournament in Hong Kong – allowed Van Damme to prance about in tight pants for 50% of the film while doing roundhouse kicks in slow motion. Yes, it is sensational 1980s action cheese, void of any real emotional connections to the characters, but it boasts some impressively awesome fight scenes.

Smashing Machine: The Life and Times of Extreme Fighter Mark Kerr (2002)
For those of you who think that MMA is just an excuse for sweaty men who like to grab hold of other sweaty men and role about on a canvas for fifteen minutes, this HBO documentary by John Hyams should open your eyes. Mark ‘The Smashing Machine’ Kerr was a 255lbs behemoth with a brutal technique of head-butting and kneeing people in the face while they were prone on the canvas. He was a decorated wrestler, a beast of the ring, and a black market painkiller addict. This is not only an excellent documentary about fighting but also about addiction and the lengths that some men will go to in order to achieve perfection and greatness. Not for the squeamish!

Enter the Dragon (1973)
This was such an international success that it would have made Bruce Lee the world’s biggest action hero, had he not unfortunately died in mysterious circumstances before the film’s release. After accepting an invite to a drug baron’s martial arts tournament on a private island, Lee gets to showcase his talent for knocking people out with one punch while simultaneously screaming like he’s taking a particularly painful shit. Yes, it is more of an action movie which uses a fight tournament to propel its story but, nearly thirty years later, the influence the film had on the Martial Arts and Action genres is self evident. No Enter the Dragon? No Matrix, The Transporter, Van Damme, Chuck Norris or endless other action movies and stars.

Fight Club (1999)
At the time of release, I was a bit too young to appreciate what Fight Club was really about, and if I am honest I am still not entirely sure. Edward Norton works in an office and buys a lot of Ikea furniture until he meets Brad Pitt. His flat blows up and then he and Pitt start a club where grown men get together and fight each other in an attempt to vent their pent up male aggression. Oh, they also make soap…that’s when it begins to get really crazy. At its heart the film is about the internal conflict of an office clamped generation who get no sense of reward from their jobs and dream of saying a monumental “fuck you!” Oh, and punching people really hard in the face – it’s also about that.

118 responses to “5 Non- Boxing Fight Movies”

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  78. Greatest,inspiring movie,with really strong and great acting by Tom hardy and nick nolte and the movie is gripping, every second is worth watching.A raging fire glimmers within me as i watch it and the song when the brothers fight at the end is really really good.I can watch it many times i want but I'll never get bored.I really don't have words to describe how great the movie is.It is on another level,this movie.I liked Tom hardy but after this movie he is now in my most favourite actors list,he nailed it.

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