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In this corner: five films you should definitely seek out after catching Creed 2. All of these selections are just as sportingly violent and emotional as Adonis’ second trip into the arena, once again ready to prove himself worthy of carrying his father’s name.
Fat City  (d. John Huston, w. Leonard Gardner)
John Huston’s very best late period movie is a stark portrait of two working class brawlers: one an aging pro (Stacy Keach), and the other his up-and-coming sparring partner (Jeff Bridges). Neither have many options in this world, subjecting themselves to nightly beatings just to make a buck. Brusque masculinity collides with broken dreams, as Susan Tyrell acts her ass off to the tune of a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
Bloodsport  (d. Newt Arnold, w. Mel Friedman, Christopher Cosby & Sheldon Lettich)
Cannon Films unleashed Jean-Claude Van Damme as Great White Dragon Frank Dux, the first American fighter to be crowned champion of mixed martial arts tournament, the Kumite. Though Dux’s claim to fame has been disputed in real life, there’s no denying the greased beauty of Van Damme’s initial starring role: comprised of numerous high kicks and wince-inducing splits. Always remember: you gotta fight to survive.
Diggstown  (d. Michael Ritchie, w. Steven McKay)
A con man (James Woods) seeks out his old slugger pal (Louis Gossett, Jr.) to take down 10 of the titular boxing obsessed town’s best fighters to win a $100,000 bet. Hijinks ensue, as the 48-year old YMCA instructor now must mangle a legion of bad men. As much a clever crime comedy as it is as bruising sports picture, Diggstown features a legion of character actors (including Bruce Dern and Oliver Platt) climbing into the ring to craft a hidden gem.
The Great White Hype  (d. Reginald Hudlin, w. Tony Hendra & Ron Shelton)
A satire of the Don King dominated era of racially charged fight promotion, The Great White Hype showcases Samuel L. Jackson as a ruthless huckster, looking to pit the out of shape champ (Damon Wayans) against a former contender who’s burned what little brain cells he had away (Peter Berg). Cue up House of Pain and laugh along with this ridiculous 90s comedy, which also features killer turns from Jeff Goldblum (as a crusading sports journalist) and Jamie Foxx (as the true contender’s hustling manager) and is as brilliant as it is lunkheaded.
Warrior  (d. Gavin O’Connor, w. Cliff Dorfman, Anthony Tambakis & Gavin O’Connor)
Melodrama for MMA freaks, Warrior is nevertheless incredibly poignant, as two brothers (Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton) are set to collide in a Vegas Octagon, the winner primed to take home $1 million. Every blow delivers just as much emotional pain as it does physical trauma, with both of the titular gladiators delivering moody, Brando-esque turns. Bonus points for Nick Nolte’s drunken dad and Frank Grillo’s disciplined trainer, both of whom prep this familial showdown for a teary conclusion.
Creed II is in theaters now! Grab your tickets here!