As the GB gold rush continues, here is Part 2 of Movie Talk’s top ten sports films, as chosen by guest contributor Shreya Patel. To see the 1st part, click here:
5: The Karate Kid (1984)
Miyagi: Now use head for something other than target.
Daniel Larusso (Ralph Macchio) moves to California with his mother, and quickly encounters the powerful fists of his new school’s tall, blonde jocks as a result of his flirtatious exchanges with Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue), an ex-girlfriend of one of the clan.
Having been beaten and bruised almost everyday by these bullies, Daniel desperately begs his mother to go home, but he soon meets a handyman named Mr. Kesuke Miyagi (Pat Morita).
A reserved and warm character, he is generous to the Larussos and reveals his karate skills in the process of saving Daniel’s life. He promises to teach Daniel karate in order for him to confront the bullies and (hopefully) impress his dream girl, although all Daniel seems to be learning is how to wax cars, sand floors and paint fences. In fact, what he’s being shown positively confuses him, until Miyagi spills the magic.
This film is another example of an underdog story, but despite many clichés, the film remains quirky and emotionally engaging. Thanks to Macchio’s brilliant performance as the sassy but vulnerable Larusso and Miyagi’s tragic sub-story, this film feels ageless and is guaranteed to prompt a tear or two.
4: Shaolin Soccer
Sing: Hello there, do you want to learn Kung Fu?
Girl: YOU CRAZY!
Sing (Stephen Chow) is a young, modern-day Shaolin monk who is a master of ancient martial arts, and renowned for his ‘leg of steel’. In a time where there isn’t much call for a Shaolin warrior, Sing becomes determined to make Kung Fu more popular and to expand people’s appreciation for the art.
He becomes passionate about a Kung Fu-football combo he accidentally stumbled upon during a fight, and – with the help of a once demoralised coach and his team of fellow martial-art experts – they manage to make the sport their own in the most absurd manner.
Stephen Chow performs brilliantly as the wise, headstrong Sing, giving his character a slight, crazy twist, resulting in added charm. The animated feel and the utterly ridiculous spontaneous dancing, laced with poignant moments makes Shaolin Soccer a well-executed, feel-good film.
Check out the trailer here:
3: Bend It Like Beckham
Paula: Don’t tell me. The offside rule is when the French mustard has to be between the teriyaki sauce and the sea salt.
This unforgettable comedy follows two 18-year-old friends, Jesminder ‘Jess’ Bhamra (Parminder Naghra) and Juliette ‘Jules’ Paxton (Keira Knightley), both with the dream of playing professional football. Jess finds she has to bend the rules in order to ‘bend it like Beckham’, because of her orthodox Sikh family’s firm disapproval of her football-playing.
Her focused, goal-orientated actions cause her to challenge friendships – especially her friendship with Jules – as well as family relationships. Instead of finding herself a nice husband and mastering the perfect aloo gobi, she can’t help but do two shameful things: play football behind her family’s back, and lay her fancies on a white Irish boy.
This film never loses it charm, and at times displays a frighteningly (but comically) accurate representation of an uptight Asian family. Within the framework of comedy and wit exists a complex exploration of themes such as sacrifice, commitment and prejudice that reels the audience into an interesting ride.
Paddy Conlon: You dump whatever it is you need to dump as far as those pills are concerned. I don’t want to see ’em. In fact, hand ’em over right now. I know they’re on you, Tommy. You sounded like a goddamn maraca coming through the door.
Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy), an ex-marine, returns to his recovered alcoholic of a father to train for a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) tournament called ‘Sparta’, awarding an unprecedented prize of $5 million. He remains bitterly distant from his dad due to his past relationship with him but progresses quickly in the contest thanks to his fighting skills.
Meanwhile, Tommy’s brother Brendan (Joel Edgerton) struggles to support his wife and two children, holding two jobs as a physics teacher and a fighter in small, informal games to get extra cash.
This activity suddenly backfires though, when he gets suspended from the school without pay. He returns to his old training ground in hope of entering ‘Sparta’ in order to win the prize money and prevent his family becoming homeless. Although he works hard and improves well during training, he unknowingly heads towards an inevitable showdown with his brother.
This film is captivatingly unconventional in the sense that the sport itself isn’t the main focus. Instead, a poignant and complex exploration of family values, love, forgiveness, hardship and trust is delivered in a tear jerking format, with moving performances from Edgerton, Hardy and Nick Nolte (playing Paddy Conlon, the disconsolate father).
1: Cool Runnings
Yul Brenner: How ’bout I beat your butt right now?
Sanka Coffie: How ’bout I draw a line down the middle of your head so it looks like a butt?
Based on the true story of the Jamaican bobsled team competing for the first time in the 1988 Winter Olympics.
The reggae, the sun and the cool beers set the tropical scene for most of the film, where ex-coach Irv (John Candy) struggles to teach four Jamaican novices bobsledding without the vital ingredients of ice and snow.
Director Jon Turtletaub jam-packs the film with wonderfully daft humour and slapstick; the film features racism, poverty, self-approval, teamwork and perseverance whilst maintaining a warmly humorous and family-friendly feel.