What makes Rocky so popular is that it’s the classic underdog story. The tale of Sylvester Stallone’s Philadelphia boxer who is offered a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship is one of the defining sports movies in film history.The movie also works on a deeper level as it’s an enthralling character study, with a tight script and wonderful characters. So, we’re going to check out some of the best movies like Rocky that you need to be watching right now.
The Best Movies Like Rocky
Rocky was a game-changer, generating a whole new level of interest in sports movies. Movies like Rocky will definitely revolve around a sport, but they will also be the most interesting films, stories about people.
The pseudo-sequel to 2006’s brilliant Rocky Balboa, Creed, the seventh film in the Rocky series, follows Apollo Creed’s illegitimate son, Adonis, as he battles to step out of the shadow of his late father, and into the limelight. Michael B. Jordan is wonderful in the lead as the brash, abrasive Adonis, and Stallone, robbed of the Oscar, scooped a Golden Globe for his (possibly) final portrayal of the Italian Stallion.
The Fighter (2010)
The Fighter unexpectedly punched its way into my heart when it was released in 2010. With David O. Russell at the helm, it’s no surprise this underdog story packs the same right hook as Rocky. The film focuses on pro boxer Micky Ward, played by Mark Wahlberg, and his half-brother, the addict former boxer Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale). The film explores the strained relationship between these two brothers, against the backdrop of the World Welterweight title fight.
Raging Bull (1980)
Often cited as the greatest boxing movie ever (we have to go with Rocky, though), Raging Bull might just be the finest hour for the Scorsese-De Niro dream team. A warts-and-all biopic of the rise and fall of former heavyweight boxer Jake LaMotta, played impeccably by an out-of-this-world De Niro. The film might be more violent and dark than Rocky, but the heart of the story remains, and with it, one of the greatest films ever made.
The Karate Kid (1984)
Now, you might think it strange to have the Karate Kid on here as it’s not about boxing. But, it’s actually a lot closer than you might think. Both movies look at the lives of characters on the fringes of society who haven’t amounted to anything. Through the medium of combat the better themselves and find their inner hero. If you like Rocky, you’ll love The Karate Kid and the journey it takes you on. And the “Wax on, wax off” scene, it also has one of the most recognizable in modern cinema.
Warrior is credited as the film that helped to take MMA mainstream, and you can see why. It’s a brutal and harrowing movie, exploring the relationship of the Conlon brothers as they both enter a national MMA tournament. This is a movie like Rocky in so many ways, not least because it is about a helluva lot more than just fighting. Instead, the movie is a masterclass in emotional conflict and features an Oscar-worthy performance from Nick Nolte as the estranged, alcoholic father.
Sometimes, when I feel like I need a tug on the ol’ heartstrings, I dust off my Rocky box set and indulge. It never fails to make me laugh, cry, and cheer, and these are some of the movies like Rocky, that I feel will have a similar effect. They may not quite be as good, but they’re certainly close to it!