10 Knock-Out Boxing Movies to Get You Ready for Jake Gyllenhaal’s ‘Southpaw’

One of summer’s most hotly anticipated films, Antoine Fuqua’s Southpaw, finally rolls into theaters this weekend. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams, and Forrest Whittaker, the boxing thriller concerns the rise, fall, and redemption of Billy Hope (Gyllenhaal), following his tumultuous life in and out of the ring. Throughout cinematic history we’ve been suckerpunched by many a boxing movie—typically underdog tales made famous by real life inspirations. So to get you ready for Southpaw’s release, here are 10 movies about boxing to watch. From classics like Rocky and Raging Bull to smaller films like Killer’s Kiss and The Fighter, check them all out below and where to stream them right now.

ROCKY, John G. Avildsen“Yo, Adrian! It’s me, Rocky.”

Which is exactly what he should say, and how he should say it, and why “Rocky” is such an immensely involving movie. Its story, about a punk club fighter from the back streets of Philly who gets a crack at the world championship, has been told a hundred times before. A description of it would sound like a cliche from beginning to end. But “Rocky” isn’t about a story, it’s about a hero. And it’s inhabited with supreme confidence by a star. — via Roger Ebert

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

RAGING BULL, Martin Scorsese“You didn’t get me down, Ray.”

It’s exceedingly violent as well as poetic and, finally, humane in the way of unsentimental fiction that understands that a life – any life – can only be appreciated when the darkness that surrounds it is acknowledged. There’s scarcely a minute in ”Raging Bull” that isn’t edged by intimations of mortality. Jake La Motta, played by Robert De Niro in what may be the pe rformance of his career, is a titanic character, a furious or iginal, a mean , inarticulate, Bronx-bred fighter whom the movie refuses to expl ain away in either sociological or psychiatric terms, or even in term s of the Roman Catholicism of his Italian-American heritage. He is propelled not by his milieu, his unruly id or by his guilts, but by something far more mysterious. — via NY Times

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

FAT CITY, John Huston“Hey kid. You want to spar a little?”

The young man is one of those cool, muscular youths who seem to be bursting with energy in their last year of high school. Then you run into them two years later and they’re pumping gas and daydreaming about refinements they can make on their cars. The older man was a boxer once, and came close enough to greatness to be haunted by it, but now he is a drifter and the next thing to a bum. Leonard Gardner’s novel Fat City placed these men in Stockton, Calif., and contrasted the hopelessness of their lives with the dogged persistence of their optimism. — via Roger Ebert

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

ALI, Michael Mann“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see.”

That subject is a man whose mesmerizing surfeit of athleticism, beauty and moral and physical courage — and enchanting lack of humility — had no modern equivalent. As it follows, for roughly the first hour, Ali from the first Sonny Liston fight in 1964 through the duel with George Foreman in Zaire in 1974, the picture has a quick-moving breathlessness. Instead of soaking the movie in deadpan, minor-key electronica — even Mr. Mann’s directorial debut, ”Thief,” employed the blue-steel proto-techno of Tangerine Dream — ”Ali” is fired up from the outset with a burst of, well, heat. — via NY Times

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

REQUIEM FOR A HEAVYWEIGHT, Ralph Nelson“Do you know why I talk so funny? Because I’ve been hit a million times.”

Requiem for a Heavyweight is a hard-boiled melodrama of a boxer’s forced retirement and his floundering for an occupation after 17 years in boxing. Nearly unrecognizable beneath a broken nose, scarred face and cauliflower ears, Anthony Quinn stars as the battered, hulking, pitiful Mountain Rivera. After a bloody, grueling loss to a younger, quicker opponent (Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali), a doctor (Lou Gilbert) pronounces Rivera one fight away from blindness and unfit to fight. But his manager Maish Rennick (Jackie Gleason) owes some gambling debts to a malevolent gangland figure, Ma Greeny (Madame Spivy) and conspires to get Rivera back in the ring, even if it’s just as a comic professional wrestler in rigged entertainment matches. But Rivera resists such degradation for as long as he can, proud that in 111 fights, he never took a dive and has remained uncorrupted despite his sojourn through boxing’s sinister, foul underworld. — via TCM

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

KILLER’S KISS, Stanley Kubrick“It’s a mistake to confuse pity with love.”

“Killer’s Kiss” brought the director onto more conventional territory, with a film noir plot about a boxer, a gangster and a dance hall girl. Using Times Square and even the subway as his backdrop, Mr. Kubrick worked in an uncharacteristically naturalistic style despite the genre material, with mixed but still fascinating results. The actress playing the dance hall girl, billed as Irene Kane, is the writer Chris Chase, whose work has frequently appeared in The New York Times. Frank Silvera plays the boxer, whose career is described as “one long promise without fulfillment.” In the case of Mr. Kubrick’s own career, the fulfillment came later. But here is the promise. — via NY Times

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

MILLION DOLLAR BABY, Clint Eastwood — “Daddy used to tell me I’d fight my way into this world, and I’d fight my way out.”

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

THE HARDER THEY FALL, Mark Robson “The fight game today is like show business. There’s no real fighters anymore, they’re all actors.”

With a fury and speed that keeps one dizzy for a matter of ten rounds (or reels)—which, in screen time, is over 100 minutes—it bangs out a punishing tale of a dirty hoax foisted on the fight fans by a crass promoter and an ex-sports writer who chops his wood. The hoax is a gargantuan boxer with no more class than a paper towel who is built up with ballyhoo and fixed fights into a challenger for the heavyweight crown. And the dirtiness lies in the cheapening of the old-time “manly art” and in the outrageous cheating of a boxer who is foolish enough to think he’s good. — via TCM

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

THE FIGHTER, David O. Russell“I’m the one fighting, okay? Not you, not you, and not you.”

Brotherly love takes a standing eight-count in The Fighter, then rallies for a knockout as two troubled brothers find a way to work together to make boxing history. This true story about light welterweight boxer and perennial underdog “Irish” Micky Ward makes for less of a sports movie than a domestic drama about blue-collar brothers struggling to stay a family while the forces of drug addiction and parental ambition tear them apart. While the film may have its Rocky-like moments, it reminds you more of the plays and films of the 1950s, which focused on tough realities faced by working-class people. — via The Hollywood Reporter

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

THE HURRICANE, Norman Jewison“Hate put me in prison. Love’s gonna bust me out.”

This film tells his story–the story of a gifted boxer (Denzel Washington) who was framed for three murders in Patterson, N.J., and lost 19 years of his life because of racism, corruption and–perhaps most wounding–indifference. In the film, the teenage boy (Vicellous Reon Shannon), who is from New Jersey, enlists his Canadian foster family to help Carter, and they find new evidence for his defense attorneys that eventually leads to his release. The villain is a cop named Vincent Della Pesca (Dan Hedaya), who essentially makes it his lifelong business to harm Carter. — via Roger Ebert

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

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