Everyone loves a good underdog story. Seeing the guy who’s written off and put down get the last laugh; watching the little guy with the odds stacked against him go on to achieve greatness. It’s no surprise that some of the greatest and most enduring films of all time are underdog stories. But which are best? Which are the most inspirational? Not intended to be a definitive list, this should promote thought and debate – who would make your top five movie underdogs?
Here’s a countdown of five of the best movie underdogs:
5. The Jamaican Bobsleigh team – Cool Runnings (1993)
Ok, I’m not saying this film is a classic, but it’s a fantastically entertaining underdog story. Based on a true story, Cool Runnings follows the first ever Jamaican bobsled team on their journey to the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics where, on arrival, the team is widely mocked and dismissed. The Jamaican team make impressive improvements over the course of the competition and their determination and spirit wins the crowd’s support – they finish their final run to cheering and rapturous applause, despite having to carry the sled over the finish line after a crash.
4. The Spartans – 300 (2006)
Before the battle of Thermopylae, the Spartans were never considered the underdog due to their legendary skills on the battlefield. This time, however, it was different. Let me set the scene; It’s 480 B.C. and King Xerxes of Persia is determined to conquer Greece at any cost. All that stands between his army of over 100,000 and victory is 300 Spartan warriors led by the fearless King Leonidas. Leonidas goes into the battle of Thermopylae knowing it’s a suicide mission but intent on buying time for the rest of the Greek force to mobilise, taking down as many Persians as possible in the process. Cue utter carnage and a series of events that undoubtedly qualify as one of history’s finest underdog movies.
3. Andy Dufresne – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Firstly, yes, that is how you spell Dufresne. This modern classic tells the tale of Andy Dufresne – a successful banker who, despite insisting he is innocent, is convicted of killing his wife and her lover. Dufresne endures brutal prison conditions for years, clinging onto the hope that one day he’ll be a free man. It’s the fact that Dufresne is such an atypical prisoner that makes him an underdog – he enters Shawshank prison looking vulnerable and ill-equipped for life as an inmate, but uses his intellect and wit to become the most influential inmate of all.
2. William Wallace – Braveheart (1995)
Wallace starts out life as a downtrodden commoner in medieval Scotland, whose father and brother have been killed fighting against the English. Definitely an underdog then. Braveheart follows Wallace’s struggle to unite Scotland against the oppressive English regime and avenge the death of his childhood sweetheart. The partly fictitious, partly historical Braveheart is a truly inspirational underdog movie.
1. Rocky Balboa – Rocky (1976)
Rocky is a small time boxer, struggling to make something of his career, when he gets the chance of a lifetime. Heavyweight champ Apollo Creed visits Philadelphia for an exhibition match – intended to be an easy win for Creed – but promoted as an opportunity for a nobody to become a somebody. Being written off as a ‘bum’ who’s way past his best only makes Rocky more determined to fight and, in doing so, build a better life for himself and his girlfriend Adrian.
So there you have it, five courageous underdogs and five stirring stories of audacity in the face of adversity. Who’s your number one underdog?
Article by: Samantha Cairns
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