There are certain movies anyone who is into martial arts is virtually guaranteed to enjoy. These biopics tell the stories of some of the greatest martial artists ever. There are many lessons to be learned from the ways each of these people dealt with challenges that life threw their way and how they changed the lives of those around them.
Need some motivation to keep up with life and your training? Here are six awesome martial arts biopics that will motivate and inspire you:
1) Beautiful Boxer
Here’s a movie that is based on the story of Nong Toom, a young man who feels he’s a female trapped in a male body. It documents how he accidentally started training in Muay Thai and realized this demanding contact sport could help him pay for the gender change operation he wanted.
It is a great film that will absolutely surprise you a few times. The characters are well represented and the movie promotes a strong message about self-reflection and diversity.
This film does not just cover Toom’s journey as a professional Muay Thai fighter, it also dives into his childhood, helping the audience to understand his perspective. The fight scenes in the film are very authentic with professional Muay Thai fighter/actor Suwan Asanee playing Toom.
Beautiful Boxer is about accepting your personal truths and forging a way toward your goals.
2) The Fighter
The Fighter focuses on Irish boxing champion Micky Ward. Nicknamed “Irish”, Ward represented poor Irish immigrants in the U.S. whose struggles are sometimes overlooked. It’s an interesting story that focuses on the role his family played in his success, particularly his brother, Dicky, who was also a boxer himself, one who went the distance with the legendary Ray Leonard.
The movie highlights Dicky’s addiction to crack cocaine and how his demons almost cost Micky his boxing career as well. The story features many other obstacles Micky had to deal with, including his mother/manager, Alice.
Despite all the obstacles in his way, Micky managed to persevere and remains one of the more popular boxers of his era.
3) Ip Man
This movie is loosely based on the real life of the Wing Chun master the film is named after. Several of his students ended up becoming famous martial artists themselves, most noticeably Bruce Lee.
The movie starts off in 1930s Southern China with Ip Man enjoying a privileged lifestyle. Things quickly begin to change as the British-backed Japanese invade, forcing him to resort to menial jobs. This movie is about Ip Man’s road to redemption after getting stripped of all the material things he owned and his status.
He is a reluctant hero, who eventually leads the fight against the invaders. The movie is loaded with lots of drama and exceptional fight scenes.
4) Raging Bull
Here’s an interesting movie about a complicated man, boxer Jake LaMotta, who finds himself constantly going through a range of emotions most people can relate to. This movie also highlights his often rocky relationships with women.
Raging Bull goes over his many conquests with women who often left him unable to control his emotions. It is an interesting insight into the world of prizefighting and the women who surround the fighters. This movie dives into the things that made LaMotta who he was and the highlights of his professional boxing career. It is one of those movies every hardcore boxing fan should see.
Raised in the Bronx, LaMotta fought his way to a middleweight title in the 1940s. His success was short-lived as he ended up squandering the millions of dollars he made fighting. He followed this up with a failed attempt at standup comedy and a prison stint for being involved with an underage girl.
5) Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story
This movie tells the inspiring story of Bruce Lee. Told from the perspective of his wife, Linda, the film goes over Lee’s early years in the U.S. It captures the spontaneity and open-mindedness that separated Lee from most martial artists of his era.
You get to see how Lee dealt with finding himself in unfamiliar territory and his eventual success as a leading actor. The film is filled with lots of entertaining fight scenes and highlights how Lee dealt with adversity without ever letting it affect who he was.
It is an inspirational film that those who enjoy Bruce Lee films will appreciate.
6) Cinderella Man
Based on the life of former boxer James Braddock, Cinderella Man is an interesting movie that even those who do not care much for boxing or martial arts will appreciate. During the Great Depression, Braddock finds himself working as a day laborer, trying to take care of his family. A proud man, Braddock is eventually reduced to welfare and it quickly becomes apparent returning to boxing might be his only way out of poverty.
Braddock finally gets a shot against an upcoming young boxer and he makes the most of it, scoring a huge upset. The win takes him on a Cinderella story that culminates with him eventually challenging the champion for the belt.
This movie showcases the realities of being a prize fighter in ways few others do. You get to feel the pressure and uncertainty Braddock and his family find themselves constantly dealing with.
It is a nice, clean movie with many moral lessons, making it the perfect choice for family movie night.