Don’t you love a good sporting event? Both on the field and in the cinema. The London 2012 Olympics are well under way, and we’re all feeling inspired. We could swim to victory, ride for that gold medal, run like our shoes are on fire. If they can do it, so can we, because the world is our oyster.
Okay, so most of us will never actually get to compete, but we can sit back, be in awe of our respective country’s Olympians, and watch an inspiring sports movie or two, while we wait patiently for those gold, silver and bronze medals to roll in.
There are plenty of sporting movies that deserve at least a nod of approval. Some are based around true Olympic stories, others avoid the games and are simply made for your sporting entertainment. Either way we thought it was the perfect opportunity to give you a little insight into some of the sporting movie gems you might have missed over the years.
Starting with a 90s children’s classic, that you will at least know by reputation.
Cool Runnings (1993) - We love a Disney adventure. Starring the late John Candy, this fun favourite is based on the true tale of the first Jamaican bobsleigh team, who try their luck at the Winter Olympics. The trouble is no one in Jamaica has any interest in the sport, and their coach is disgraced and mocked by the bobsleigh community. Game on! It's fun, surprisingly lacking in cliché and kids love it. Okay, so Jamaicans are stereotyped, and it's not entirely accurate, but it's fun.
The Cutting Edge (1992) - We all love a good boy meets girl, but few can beat the ones set within the suspense of competition. A bad boy ice hockey player is partnered with a spoiled figure skater, after a disappointing 1988 Winter Olympics in their respective sports. Through 15-hours-a-day skate training, they prepare to enter the Nationals and the Olympics as a figure skating duo. Did I mention they can't stand one another? It's your typical love/skate relationship.
Bert and Dickie (2012) - Released just in time for the London 2012 Olympics, and produced by the BBC, this movie tells the true story of Bert Bushnell and Dickie Burnell. Set during the 1948 London Olympics, Bert (Matt Smith) and Dickie (Sam Hoare) are thrown together five weeks before the final to row together in the double sculls. Cue bickering, and a true tale of triumph. Seeing that Britain was still recuperating from World War Two, it's even more poignant when you consider how far the UK has come from 1948 to 2012.
Chariots of Fire (1981) - "Two men chasing dreams of glory," reads the tagline. We can't do a sporting movie feature without this classic! The score alone earns its place here. Directed by Hugh Hudson, this 1981 movie tells the true story of two British track athletes competing in the 1924 Olympics. One a devout Scottish missionary, the other a Jewish Cambridge student. Start slow-mo running now! Dum dum dum dum dum dum...
One Day in September (1999) - Poignant and well researched, this moving documentary tells the true story of the 1972 Munich Olympics, in which Israeli athletes were held hostage by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September. Directed by Kevin Macdonald, and winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1999, the film walks us through the events using archive footage, and interviews with the surviving terrorists and officials. A documentary that should be seen and never forgotten.
Munich (2005) - Another Olympic film based around the 1972 Olympics terrorist fiasco, this time around we have an epic recreation of events rather than a documentary. Released in 2005 and directed by Spielberg, the film deals with the Israeli government's secret mission against the terrorist group Black September, who were responsible for the massacre of eleven Israeli athletes. Although a work of fiction, it caused controversy due to touching on sensitive topics. Worth a look.
Bend it Like Beckham (2002) - Technically not an Olympic film, but considering Mr Beckham was so instrumental in our Olympic bid, and he did drive the Olympic flame to the stadium in a speedboat, this counts. Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra star. Jess (Nagra) rebels against her orthodox Sikh parents wishes, by pursuing her footballing dreams. She joins a girls' team and runs off to Germany to compete. Obviously her hero is David Beckham. It was 2002, and he was very much still in the game.
Murderball (2005) - While the Olympics are inspiring, there is nothing more heart warming than the success stories at the Paralympics. This 2005 documentary follows the US quad rugby team between 2002 and the 2004 Paralympic Games. These inspiring young men, most with spinal injuries play this rough sport like seated gladiators, proving that anyone can get past their disability, with a little determination and a love of the game.
Wimbledon (2004) - Not Olympics, but still a competition that's close to the nation's hearts. Plus it was released the year of the 2004 Athens Olympics, so it's a fitting choice. Paul Bettany plays a pro tennis player, who has fallen to rank at 119. A wild card entry into Wimbledon, he meets a young American woman (Kirsten Dunst) who helps him get his focus back. A true fairytale about an Englishmen's quest to do the seemingly impossible and win our own tennis tournament. Eight years on we're still waiting...
Tin Cup (1996) - Where art thou Kevin Costner? It seems like Waterworld brought the former Robin Hood's career to a standstill. However he was worked since then, notably in this 1996 golfing movie. In it, a washed-up golf pro who works at a driving range, attempts to qualify for the US Open. Because he wants to regain his glory? Nah, he fancies his rival's girlfriend. It sounds kind of similar to any other film, but it's actually pretty good.