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Fighting Films: New Genre Trend?

Written by Cole Hediger. Published: May 30 2024
(Photo: Prime Video)


Ever since A24's The Iron Claw, a niche genre scene has been transformed with a new influx of fighting films. The Iron Claw came out last year and was met with raving reviews. Starring Zac Efron and Jeremy Allen White, the film relayed the real story of the Von Erich brothers as they reshaped pro-wrestling in the '80s. 


Following the film’s success (grossing over $45 million) and overall audience adoration, it’s no surprise that the movie scene has developed a similar interest in the film’s subject. Productions have started to pop up left and right featuring fighting-centric plots. Whether this be wrestling, boxing, or MMA, it’s clear that fighting films are the it-trend of the screen right now.


The Smashing Machine

The Smashing Machine, another A24 film, tells the story of mixed-martial arts and UFC champ Mark Kerr. The film will navigate through the fighter’s career, addiction, and personal relationships in the early-2000s. Photos from the movie’s set were released this month, depicting the nearly unrecognizable Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Kerr. 


Johnson recently posted about his training for the project as well. The wrestler-turned-actor revealed that he’s been working alongside Mark Kerr himself to perfect both his portrayal of Kerr and Kerr’s technique within the ring. 


Mark Kerr has also assisted in the development of the project, working with writer and director Benny Safdie (Uncut Gems) to share his story. Alongside Dwayne Johnson playing Kerr, he is joined by Emily Blunt and Olympian Oleksandr Usyk. The Smashing Machine is set to release in 2025 -- stay tuned for updates!


Road House

This remake of the 1989 cult film came out this year on Prime Video. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Conor McGregor, the film follows a retired UFC fighter who takes a job as a bouncer in Florida before his life is met with trouble. His training and fighting background become a forefront of the storytelling as his past comes back to haunt him. The film is directed by Doug Liman (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) and was written by a team of writers, including Anthony Bagarozzi, best known for his co-writing of The Nice Guys




The Fire Inside

Moonlight director Barry Jenkins announced a boxing film to be released this year. Taking on the role of writer, Jenkins teamed up with director and cinematographer Rachel Morrison for The Fire Inside. The film follows Claressa Shields, a Michigan boxer who is training to be the first woman from her hometown to reach the Olympics. The story is biographical and is inspired by the real-life Flint boxer Claressa, nicknamed "T-Rex". The project stars Ryan Destiny ("Grown-ish") as Claressa and Brian Tyree Henry (Bullet Train) as Claressa’s coach, Jason Clutchfield. The film is set to release on Christmas of this year in theaters only. 


Bang Bang

Bang Bang is an indie film written by "The Sopranos" writer Will Janowitz. The film stars Tim Blake Nelson as the titular-named character Bernard "Bang Bang" Rozyski. Shot in Kentucky, the story tells of a retired boxer "rectifying the sins of his past". Bang Bang, a grandfather now, faces problems of his past popping up in his present day, which force him to encourage his grandson to get in the ring. The project is directed by Vincent Grashaw (What Josiah Saw) and set to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in June of this year. 


Christy Martin Biopic

Sydney Sweeney’s newest project is the latest addition to this trend. The film was announced earlier this month as a biopic of the boxing star Christy Martin. The movie tells the story of fighting superstar Christy Martin and her career and life in the '90s, with Sweeney to play Martin. David Michôd, the director and writer of The King, is currently attached to the project as director and co-writer. Though there is no release date yet, the film begins shooting later this year with Fifty Fifty Films. Read more about it here.