The Hurricane (1999)
Of all the boxing movies on this list, The Hurricane, starring Denzel Washington, may have the least to do with the actual sport of boxing. The film is about the true story of former boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who was wrongly imprisoned for murder, and a group of people who help him escape by proving him innocent.
Needless to say, Denzel Washington is phenomenal in the role. He brings a level of gravitas to the character as someone who, at times, has accepted his predicament while still keeping a level of hope that one day he would be released.
Rather than putting a focus on boxing, Carter’s life’s memoir, written in prison, is the true catalyst for his eventual release. Years later, a copy finds itself in the hands of a young man in a bargain box at a bookstore.
What the film does so well is it goes through the past and present, breaking down how Carter got put into prison and those that unfairly put him there. Dan Hedaya, in particular, plays a ruthless detective as the film’s antagonist. He plays someone so vile there isn’t anything he wouldn’t do to ruin Carter’s life.
The juxtaposition of corruption in the sport of boxing to the legal system is a theme in the film.
Most sports movies will use the sport itself to show their protagonist overcoming adversity. But The Hurricane goes the route of having Carter battle all odds through the court system.
Boxing may not be at the forefront of Rubin Carter’s story, but the story of a fighter having his career unjustly taken from him needed to be told.