Top 10 Serious Sports Movie Montages
VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Akil Goin.
Athletic progress is seen in stages, and composing its highlights is an art. In this video, http://www.WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 serious sports movie montages. For this list, we're looking at big screen training sequences, uplifting teamwork scenes, and successful rises to sports challenges that flat-out rule for their content, rhythm, pacing, emotional intensity and editing technique.
Special thanks to our users kenn1987, Andy Roehl, Jonny Weaver, Benn Jeffrey, Manuel Guadarrama Moreno, Fernando Olivo Ramos and timtamzosh for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
Script written by Akil Goin.
Top 10 Serious Sports Movie Montages
Athletic progress is seen in stages, and composing its highlights is an art. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 serious sports movie montages.
For this list, we’re looking at big screen training sequences, uplifting teamwork scenes, and successful rises to sports challenges that flat-out rule for their content, rhythm, pacing, emotional intensity and editing technique.
#10: The Best Memories
In this sports drama, the creation of a racially integrated football team in 1971 sparks some political conflict unto their new coach, who faces a career-risking responsibility to lead them to victory. This accelerated winning streak montage dismisses all the tensions we’ve endured and ultimately relieves the audience with that one thing that unites us all as human beings: joy. The clip’s depiction of triumph through quick cuts of smiles, cheering, celebration and reward is made very real with the barrage of split-screen camcorder footage that lets us share in their happiness.
“Remember the Titans” (2000)
#9: Pennant Fever
When a mean-spirited woman inherits the Cleveland Indians, she plots to lower attendance records enough to get them moved to Florida. Despite recruiting a seemingly terrible new roster, the joke’s on her because her scheme is just a sports montage away from failing. This comedy’s gags are high-brow enough to keep the team’s transformation grounded in inspiring, albeit hilarious, plausibility. It also takes place over an entire season, and since the characters remain true to themselves, it’s heartwarming through all its jokes and tropes.
“Major League” (1989)
#8: Love Conquers All
Throughout this story, Jake LaMotta’s personal life doesn’t see the success of his professional one, because he’s controlled and dominated by the demons that make him a dangerous boxer. But when Cupid strikes his heart just as his career is peaking, we have a creative series of shots to show us some serenity while dialing down the ring-rage. A true highlight, this montage is the only part of the film that’s actually in color, and it’s a “life-is-good” moment that balances the darkness of the drama.
“Raging Bull” (1980)
#7: No Pain, No Gain
Though Van Damme previously tested his martial arts skills in Asia in “Bloodsport,” it’s this training montage from “Kickboxer” that’s got our vote. JCVD’s Kurt Sloane is a boxer whose brother ends up hospitalized from a fight gone too far. Furious, he decides to train in Muay Thai so he can deliver some justice. This montage begins by showing us his excellent form and balance, and it’s just a preview to his equally impressive displays of strength. The bone-creaking pain and agonized grunts indicate that there are some genuine challenges for this action star. You can almost feel it, ironically, against the peaceful sights and sounds of tranquility.
#6: The Hangover
Still suffering from their drunken debaucheries of the night before (and morning of) their football game, this high school team makes a gut-wrenching compilation of epic failures for its montage, and it’s all in catastrophic slow-motion. The film is already about a football-obsessed community, so the scene is supposed to look every bit as upsetting as the collisions, fumbles and destructive moments make them out to be. It’s an arena of shame.
“Varsity Blues” (1999)
#5: Release Some Tension
Boxer Micky Ward is so talented that his very potential gets him caught in the crossfire of his family’s requests and his business opportunities. With the pressure of having to decide between his girlfriend’s, mother’s and brother’s wishes for him, this winning-streak montage shows us how he channels his worries and frustrations through his gloves. He’s zoned into his passion, focused and fighting for himself and no one else. Notice that there are no referee or crowd shots, because they don’t matter right now. These are his fights.
“The Fighter” (2010)
#4: Clip Show
For the true story of the Oakland Athletics’ unprecedented 2002 20-game winning streak, the actual archive video and announcer’s footage are built into a nicely crafted highlight reel of a montage. This “Moneyball” scene shows us the perspective of the managers who experimented with a new recruiting system to reanimate this poorly budgeted team of underdogs, and the results speak for themselves. The montage incorporates its true video with actors Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Jonah Hill, intercutting shots of what happened on the field with subtle dramatizations to make the transitions smooth.
#3: Hearts on Fire
Rocky is nearing the kind of fight he’s never known before, and will have to train for it just as hard. It’s two montages for the price of one in this extended musical clip, which features Rocky’s old-fashioned strongman training style of log hauling, car fleeing, wood chopping, and mountain climbing. These feats contrast his opponent Ivan Drago’s high tech routine of doctors, fitness equipment and sophisticated machines. It’s a man versus beast metaphor with motivational music. To top it off, nothing’s more inspiring than mountain peak battle cries.
“Rocky IV” (1985)
#2: He’s the Best
Bullying victim Daniel LaRusso has completed his training with Mr. Miyagi and laid his future school days’ peace in the hands of this tournament’s outcome. An inspiration to insecure adolescents everywhere, his meek and humble demeanor almost makes you underestimate his skills. But Daniel quickly propels himself through the tournament’s rankings until the showdown we’ve been anticipating against each gang member takes place. This montage works in an efficient sense of showing us the Karate Kid’s progress and escalating difficulty in the way it paces the fight scenes that matter most.
“The Karate Kid” (1984)
Before we sport our top pick, here is a montage of some honorable mentions.
- Mixed Martial Arts Montage
“Never Back Down” (2008)
- Working it Out
“The Cutting Edge” (1992)
- Feel the Burn
“Chariots of Fire” (1981)
- No Limits
“No Retreat, No Surrender” (1986)
#1: The Underdog
It’s the original, iconic training montage whose distinct music you can recognize by its first notes. This be-all, end-all example has been imitated, duplicated, parodied and pilfered since its 1976 release, and features Rocky Balboa running near Philly landmarks and landscapes. In this montage, he is training for his surprise match against Heavyweight Champ Apollo Creed, after his original contender drops out at short notice. Thanks to Sylvester Stallone’s method acting, work ethic and everyman attitude, this “Rocky” montage is engaging and relatable because it’s down to earth and encouraging to any sports enthusiast.
Do you agree with our list? Which sports movie montages did we miss? For more inspiring Top 10s every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.