Film Latest - - by Paul Klein

Sporting Chance: Our top 10 sports films

Sporting Chance: Our top 10 sports films

Dexter Fletcher’s third directed film arrives in cinemas this week. Based on the real-life story of Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, the notoriously poor-performing British ski jumper, Eddie the Eagle, starring Hugh Jackman, promises to remind us exactly why we love an underdog (however much of a mutt they may be). As such, here are a further 10 sports films all about the power of self-belief. cheap soma cod Bend It Like Beckham (Gurinder Chadha, 2002)

Sport: Football

A feel good comedy drama that centers on London-born Punjabi Sikh Jesminder “Jess” (Parminder Nagra) who attempts to find space in her life for her family’s old-fashioned values and her love of football. Into her life comes Jules (Keira Knightley) and Joe (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) who introduce her to women’s football.

It works even if you’re not much of a football fan, in a way that the likes of Mean Machine or Football Factory never did. Moreover Bend It Like Beckham has mass appeal: it’s about football, it has two central female characters who are actually very likable and instead of the usual stereotypes (that would become common place in British TV shows like The Kumars at No 42 and Citizen Khan) it offers a portrait of Asian-Brits that is as funny, true and sympathetic as indie Brit-hit East is East. 

And has the finest line about the sport ever, for non-fans at least: “Football? Football? Shit-ball.”


Cool Runnings (Jon Turtletaub, 1993)

Sport: Bobsledding

The fictionalized version of the true story of Jamaica’s first bobsledding team stars the late John Candy in what is the best display of the world of winter sports.

The endearing comedy paints a picture of men trying to do something different, and in the case of so many great sports films is a tale of the underdog. John Candy is, of course, brilliant bringing warmth to a role that in modern hands would probably go to the likes of Jack Black or Seth Rogen, here is made the heart of this lovable family film.


The Hustler & The Colour of Money (Robert Rossen, 1961/Martin Scorsese, 1986)

Sport: Pool

Paul Newman stars as “Fast” Eddie Felson in both these films, showing the change in a man when twenty-five years pass. But aside from those, there’s something to be said of how tense and cinematic Rossen and Scorsese make a game usually left to the chronically drunk.

Newman centers both films (and won an Oscar for the latter), while Tom Cruise also makes a mark as hisa cocky protege  in the follow-up movie. Though not particularly heavyweight they’re both great tales of a man and a game that are both so much more than that.


Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson, 1981)

Sport: Long-distance running

Running is something that looks cool on screen – for proof, check out any Tom Cruise movie. But long-distance running isn’t necessarily something one would associate with the world of mainstream drama. Yet England, more than say the US, seem to return to the marathon, the sprint, the run more than any other film making culture.

Fast Girls, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and even Run, Fatboy, Run have taken a look at that wonderful world of running but none quite as well as the Academy Award winning epic, known not only for making Ben Cross an icon but also for it’s endlessly catchy theme music. One of Great Britain’s finest achievements in cinema, and a truly involving movie.


The Rocky Series (Jon G. Avilsden/Sylvester Stallone/Ryan Coogler, 1976 – 2016)

Sport: Boxing

Of course there happens to be a thousand other boxing films: Cinderella Man, Raging Bull, The Fighter, Million Dollar Baby, Southpaw, The Boxer, Ali to name but a few. But if we’re talking boxing, then it has to be Sylvester Stallone’s punch-drunk fighter Rocky “The Italian Stallion” Balboa in seven films that chronicle the life of a man who lives ringside for decades.

While Rocky’s latest outing Creed sees him being written for the first time by someone other than Stallone, there is something to be said of this tale of the underdog that inspired millions, made a landmark of Philadelphia, made a star of Stallone, and gave us some of the best theme songs in movies ever.

While the seven movie saga covers Rocky going toe-to-toe with the likes of Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), Clubber Lang (Mr. T), Ivan Drago (Dolph Lungren), Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison, and Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver). If there’s more life in the slugger yet, it’ll be him training Michael B. Jordan’s Adonis Creed, and there’s nothing wrong with that.


Slap Shot (George Roy Hill, 1977)

Sport: Ice Hockey

Ice hockey has for a while been the butt of many jokes. It’s known for being fairly violent, and something of a boy’s own sport, but there are some magic moments in this comedy starring Paul Newman.

While it is by no means a classic, or will stand the test of time, it definitely has some good gags and the hockey scenes themselves actually have a tension that often lacks from sporting films. Besides, there is something satisfying about seeing Newman on screen where he isn’t even trying to be charming. He just is.


Caddyshack (Harold Ramis, 1980)

Sport: Golf

Until we’re given a probing, in depth and unforgiving drama film about the rise, addictions and fall of Tiger Woods (a vehicle that would be perfect to co-star Will Smith and James Earl Jones incidentally), we have the original sporting comedy in the form of Harold Ramis’ Caddyshack. 

Is it a great film? No. Is it a good film? Not really. But does it have nostalgic charm and a great dancing gopher? Yes. It also happens to be 1000x better than Happy Gilmore and one billion times funnier than Tin Cup.


Invictus (Clint Eastwood, 2009)

Sport: Rugby

While some might have expected other sports like tennis, American Football or baseball, there is something to be said about the somewhat cinematically overlooked sport of rugby.

Here we get the majestic Clint Eastwood telling the true story of when Nelson Mandela was president and all eyes looked to the first Rugby World Cup since he was released and elected.


Whip It (Drew Barrymore, 2009)

Sport: Roller Derby

An addition to the CV of long lasting actress Barrymore is her directorial debut, starring Ellen Page about roller derby girls – it’s a girl power tour-de-force!

A fun but somewhat overlooked film that really should have found a bigger audience, for those who have seen it, it’s a much different type of sports tale and definitely has a much nicer tone.


Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (Rawson Marshall Thurber, 2004)

Sport: Dodgeball

Ben Stiller is on top form as overly peppy bad guy White Goodman, up against rival and slacker Vince Vaughn as Peter LeFleur, Christine Taylor and a host of others including Justin Long, Alan Tudyk, Rip Torn, and Stephen Root all star with great support from Jason Bateman and Gary Cole. Best of all the cameos are all top grade and game for a laugh none more so than Chuck Norris.

A very very funny film and one that shows the absolute joy of Dodgeball, which of course has five Ds… dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge.


Paul Klein, a film studies graduate from London.

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