If you’re like me, you love a good training montage- it’s basically the movie equivalent of this website, after all. It’s always inspiring to see someone improving themselves through dedication and adversity. With that being said, here’s a list of the 7 Best Fighting and Training Movies:
The first film on the list is a great MMA fighting classic, Never Back Down. Starring Sean Faris and Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of the Galaxy, Constantine), this movie tells the story of Jake Tyler (Faris). New in town and an outsider, Jake is struggling with the death of his father. He ends up at a party where the reigning MMA champion challenges him to a fight and solidly kicks his ass. As a result, he begins training at the gym of Jean Roqua (Hounsou)- a strict, old school fighter whose number one rule is that he is not allowed to fight outside of the gym. Things get out of hand and lead to- you guessed it- a lot of fighting.
Definitely worth your time and a great watch to get you pumped to train. If you’re a fan of MMA, you can’t miss this one.
Fearless tells the legend of Huo Yuanjia, played by the legendary Jet Li. This is a loose adaptation of the story of the historical Huo Yuanjia, although the film definitely takes some liberties. The movie takes the form of a long flashback as the mature Huo remembers his life and training before the most important fight of his life. As a child, he watches his father lose to a dishonorable fighter, so he sets out to regain honor for his family. However, he becomes vengeful and cruel until he does something awful out of anger and flees his village. Near death, he is rescued by a old woman and her blind granddaughter, who nurse him back to health and teach him the value of compassion. He then returns to his village as a new man, and ends up fighting against the foreign men who have come to town.
This is an excellent story about self-mastery and honor, and the value of balancing strength with ethics. If you’re a fan of Hero or just good martial arts fighting in general, this is a film for you.
Another great martial arts movie (brought to us by Keanu Reeves), Man of Tai Chi is the story of Tiger Chen, the only practitioner of the Ling Kong style of Tai Chi. He is the disciple of Master Yang, who does not want Tiger to use his considerable skills for violence. Of course, Tiger disobeys him, entering a local martial arts contest and winning. He becomes the target of Donaka Mark, an American who runs a deadly underground fighting ring under the guise of a security firm. He recruits Tiger, who thinks he is signing up to be a guard, but the interview is a fistfight. Donaka ends up offering Tiger the opportunity to keep fighting for money, which he accepts. Tiger becomes increasingly violent and circumstances get progressively out of hand as the stakes are raised and the fights go to the death.
This film is the first that Reeves directed, and Tiger is Reeves’ real life fighting trainer. It’s also a rare opportunity to see Keanu play a supremely fun bad guy, and it has some of the best fight scenes I’ve ever witnessed. Definitely worth a shot if you like fast, well choreographed martial arts.
In Southpaw, we see the tale of Billy “The Great” Hope (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), an undefeated boxer whose life falls apart after his wife is killed by the brother of one of his challengers. Everything goes to shambles as he becomes a drunk, and after assaulting a referee, he loses his house and sponsorships. Desperate, he almost dies in a suicide attempt, and loses custody of his only daughter. Left with no options, he gets a job as a janitor at a boxing gym owned by a retired champ, Titus “Tick” Willis (Forrest Whittaker), who is reluctant to train him knowing where he’s been. Billy proves his dedication and begins to rebuild his life and reputation, and trains for his ultimate fight against the brother of the man who killed his wife.
This is a gritty and raw movie that you’ll enjoy if you’re a fan of boxing or a good redemption story.
The Last Samurai may be the odd movie on this list due to it being about swordfighting, but damn it, it’s an excellent story about honor and redemption. Tom Cruise plays Nathan Algren, a former Army Captain who now makes his living as an alcoholic gun salesman. Algren suffers from severe PTSD from his role in the slaughter of natives during his time in the Army. He’s slowly throwing his life away when he is recruited by his old commander to train the recruits in the new Imperial army of Japan. Desperate for the cash, he accepts, but before the army is properly trained, they’re led to a fight with the Samurai, who are rebelling against the Emperor. The men are slaughtered, and Algren is almost executed, spared only because he showed no fear in the face of death. He is captured by the samurai and slowly becomes one of them, learning to fight with a sword and to speak Japanese.
This is just an awesome movie- there’s an incredible amount of attention to detail and research that went into making it as realistic as possible. Definitely worth the watch if you’re a fan of Japanese culture or just badass combat.
I’m sure you’ve never heard of this one- Vision Quest is a fairly obscure 80’s movie about wrestling. Starring Matthew Modine as Louden Swain, a high school wrestler who is obsessed with being the best. To be able to wrestle against the best wrestler in the area, he has to drop two weight classes. However, his coach and team are against it, and it takes a serious toll on his health. On top of that, he falls in love with a woman who is renting a room in his father’s house, and he starts to lose his focus on wrestling success.
This is a bit corny but a great one, especially if you like a good old 80’s style training montage.
If you haven’t seen Fight Club, I don’t know what to tell you. This movie never fails to get you pumped, and it’s got some of the best self-mastery wisdom in any film. Edward Norton’s character is an insomniac with a dreadfully boring life. To try and sleep, he pretends to have terminal illnesses and visits support groups to cry. However, after his house blows up, he ends up moving in with Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), who ends up creating a fight club in the basement of a local bar. It quickly gets out of hand, and the two have an organization that is plotting major anarchy.
I won’t say much, but this is a must watch (or a must rewatch- it gets better every time). If you’re looking for a kick in the ass to reevaluate your life, this is the place to start.
“I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war… Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. We’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
That’s the list of the best fighting and training movies! If you get through this and need some more movies to watch, check out these ones:
Let us know your favorite motivational movies in the comments!