The Underdog Story

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Who doesn’t love watching a tale that captures the never say die spirit?  The tale where the unsuspected comes out on top. The underdog story is usually heart-warming, and if told well it will have the viewer rooting for the protagonist every time.

There it seems are different categories in respect of the underdog story.  The obvious one is the sports tale; the individual or team regarded as a no hope, and through hard work and a training montage, they come out on top.  Here’s a few examples…

The Longest Yard (1974)

Also known as “The Mean Machine”. A former Pro Quarterback in prison is asked by the sadistic warden to form a team of inmates to take on the guards in a ‘friendly’ game of football.

Rocky (1976)

A small time boxer gets the opportunity to fight a heavyweight champion.  Cue the training montage!

The Karate Kid (1984)

A boy struggling to fit in his new environment, gets into conflict with bullying karate students, and enlists his Japanese neighbour to help him train for a tournament.  More training montage!

Kickboxer (1989)

A man must learn the ancient art of Muay Thai in order to avenge the death of his brother.  Training montage…

Cool Runnings (1993)

A disqualified Olympic sprinter enlists the help of a disgraced coach to form the first Jamaican Bobsled team.  Training in the bath!

Mean Machine (2001)

A British remake of The Longest Yard as discussed earlier, but with Vinnie Jones as the protagonist.

Creed (2015)

Rocky Balboa becomes trainer and mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his late best friend and former rival Apollo Creed.  You know that there is definitely a montage!

Then there is the fantastical underdog.  The worlds before the viewer are so different from day-to-day life is, but the matters of the heart remain the same.

Star Wars Episode IV A New Hope (1977)

With so much going against Luke Skywalker, who would have guessed that he would succeed in his quest and win the day!

Blade Runner (1982)

A blade runner must retrieve and terminate four replicants who have stolen a ship, and have travelled to earth to seek their creator for extended life.. 

300 (2006)

Spartan King Leonidas and his men of just 300 take on the Persians.

Kung Fu Panda (2008)

A panda, a novice in martial arts is bestowed with the title of Dragon Warrior, and has to go against Tai Lung, as the fate of China hangs in the balance.

Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010)

Scott Pilgrim wants to date Ramona, in order to do so he must defeat her seven evil exes.

The underdog because of life and overcomes it anyway…

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

A Mumbai teenager recalls vignettes of his life while he is being accused of cheating on India’s “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”

Erin Brockovich (2000)

A single mother becomes a legal assistant and almost single-handedly brings down a power supply company accused of polluting the city’s water supply.

8 Mile (2002)

A young man down on his luck in every aspect of his life, finds solace and eventual respect in hip-hop.

Whiplash (2014)

A young drummer enrolls at a music conservatory and is mentored by a passionate instructor who pushes him to his limits.

Hidden Figures (2016)

A team of female African-American mathematicians whose service was vital in NASA during the early stages of the U.S. space programme.

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)  

A smart, but green graduate lands a job as an assistant to a demanding editor-in-chief of a high fashion magazine.

So there you have it!  My picks of the underdog.  

I’d love to hear what you think.  Share a comment with me down below.  Thanks!

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