Soccer, or football, as they know it in Europe, is quite the world phenomenon (if the world doesn’t include the U.S.). Practically a religion in many South American countries (like Brazil or Argentina), a revered tradition in others, like Italy or the United Kingdom, the sport is both an industry and a way of life for many people. So it’s surprising there are only a few movies out there about the sport (less surprising counting that most movies come from the U.S. where they have more “popular” sports to make movies about, like golf). Then again, considering most soccer fans would rather watch an amateur game than a movie with some soccer thrown in, maybe it’s understandable. Here’s a couple of movies that managed to achieve some popularity, despite that fact (none of them involving the currently on going World Cup in South Africa).
Bend it Like Beckham
Obviously a British movie, it stars Keira Knightley before corsets and Johnny Depp, and sports a big name of the sport in the title – good marketing I say, though, unlike Being John Malkovich, this one isn’t quite centered around the title character. Using soccer as an escape from overbearing family tradition this one is much more the coming-of age story of an Indian teenage girl with a touch of ethnic comedy.
Goal! The Dream Begins
The first movie (there are 2 sequels, I don’t even know if I should call it a trilogy) was surprisingly above average, considering it probably has more soccer on display than any other movie on the list (with cameos by players, including the above mentioned Beckham). Despite that, it managed to have a decent, albeit cliche as far as rags-to-riches stories go, storyline and likable protagonists (also, Anna Friel before Pushing Daisies or the Land of the Lost disaster). And although the sequels manage to step into soap-opera territory, the first movie is a decent enough sports tale.
Now here’s a movie with all kinds of pedigree. Directed by one of the best directors of all time, John Huston, with a cast with actors such as Michael Caine and Max Von Sydow (and Sylvester Stallone, but we can omit him from the list), and players like soccer legend Pele, Bobby Moore, Osvaldo Ardiles and Hallvar Thoresen, this is an entertaining soccer movie, but less so as a war movie. The only American movie on this list.
Despite the title, the Hong Kong comedy is more Shaolin than soccer. Directed by Stephen Chow (who also made the deliciously fun Kung Fu Hustle), the movie is a slapstick comedy about using Shaolin martial arts while playing soccer. If anything, the film is as close to a cartoon as possible, complete with the violation of the laws of physics and a musical number. A big hit in Hong Kong and an international cult classic since, the movie is loony escapism fun at its best.
A British remake of an American football movie – The Longest Yard (also remade with Adam Sandler later), it’s all about a soccer match between the prisoners team and the guards team. Part comedy, part drama, it’s a decent enough movie, starring Vinnie Jones back when he was still a tough guy British movie star, coming off his time as professional soccer player, and not some guy that keeps popping up in Hollywood movies as a villain(part now occupied by Mark Strong) or comic relief. Also starring Jason Statham before the Transporter or Crank movies and his rise to fame.
Posted on June 22nd, 2010 by MrWiseguy
Filed under: Movies