The role of Rocky in the evolution of sports films

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The role of Rocky in the evolution of sports films

the role of rocky in the evolution of sports films saluteWhen we think of classic sports films one of the first things that comes to mind is the Rocky Balboa series. While previous greats like Chariots of Fire and The Longest Yard (1974) laid the foundation for quality sporting dramas, it was Sylvester Stallone’s boxing blockbusters that took the genre one stage further, creating an entire franchise that would set a new precedent for sports filmmaking. It would also go on to inspire countless other movies.

Spawning five sequels and the recent spin-off Creed, the Rocky series’ influence can be felt in a range of films throughout the past two decades. It obviously inspired other boxing films, such as Million Dollar Baby, with its focus on the relationship between coach and fighter, but from a filmmaking perspective it could also be compared to Boaz Yakin’s Remember the Titans, which had an equal sense of occasion and triumph.

In terms of structure, Rocky effectively wrote the textbook for sporting character development with its iconic montage sequences. Almost all sports films now feature an underdog or fallen legend training to reach the peak of their ability before battling it out in a dramatic finale. The genre is as popular as ever and sports fans have every reason to be excited about the direction of its future. Its development has also been recognised by the gaming industry, with computer games like FIFA 17 incorporating filmic games modes, and betting sites constantly offering players a chance to taste victory.

the role of rocky in the evolution of sports films punchMoving forward, a lot of sports titles now seem to focus on the adrenaline element of their stories. Ron Howard’s Rush, for example, told the real-life story of the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda, offering audiences a glimpse into the dangerous life of Formula One drivers. There’s also Bleed For This, another true story with a comparable arc to the Rocky films, which saw Vinny Pazienza outrageously return to the ring just one year after breaking his neck. Scenes feature him lifting weights and putting his body under tremendous stress, even though one wrong movement could paralyse him for life. It has a more energetic, Wolf of Wall Street feel to it, but undoubtedly utilises the same tropes as Rocky.

It’s interesting to see how the genre is developing further, with Final Score, an American football film that reportedly plays out more like an action film, and Battle of the Sexes, which will tell the true story of the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. It’s evident that sports films and the type of stories they tell will continue to evolve, but it seems almost impossible to escape the influence of Rocky’s cinematic legacy.

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