When it comes to the best training scenes in movies, the mind immediately jumps to some of the most iconic — Rocky, Rocky IV, and perhaps the new equivalents Creed and Creed 2. But the truth is, the training montage transcends the Rocky franchise. In fact, it transcends film genres. In our featured video, we break down how these scenes are directed. Following that is our list of the best training scenes in film. Time to hit the gym!
Watch: Training Montage Breakdown — Creed 2 & Kill Bill
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Astronaut training montage
15. Armageddon (1998)
Nothing makes a movie training montage more intense than when the stakes are raised. And in Armageddon, the stakes could not be higher. Failure of the mission would mean that mankind as we know it will be destroyed by an asteroid hitting the Earth.
The solution? Send a group of oil-rig workers to the asteroid to save the planet. In this training montage, our group of heroic oil-rig workers have just 12 days to become first-time astronauts. With some comedic quips and the usual visual flair from stylist Michael Bay, the Armageddon training montage is top notch.
Star wars training scenes in movies
14. The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
The typical training montage is about physical preparation but that doesn't mean it can't be used for mental tasks as well. Specifically, learning how to use the Force as naive Luke Skywalker must do. This scene from The Empire Strikes Back also features one of the classic variations of the training montage — the Master/Apprentice montage.
One of the tell-tale signs of a great movie training montage is if a line is so memorable it becomes an iconic quote of motivation. Few training quotes are as iconic as Yoda in The Empire Strike Back, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” While the production design makes the scene memorable, the writing and Yoda’s ideology is what makes it iconic.
Best training montages in movies
13. Never Back Down (2008)
So far on the list, we’ve covered some pretty specific scenes with some very out-of-this-world goals. But sometimes, what makes a training montage great is how relatable it can be. The training is intense, but realistic and relatable to anyone who trains.
In this scene from Never Back Down, we get all the classics of the best training montages — the initial struggle, the use of repetition to show progress, a driving, motivational soundtrack, and that final moment of triumph.
Funny training scenes in movies
12. Cool Runnings (1993)
While it’s obvious that any training montage for bobsledding will be a ton of fun, what really sells this montage in Cool Runnings is the dynamic between team and coach. Irving Blitzer (John Candy) breaks down the craft of bobsledding and the cast nails the drills — for comedic relief that is. Bobsledding performance, not so much.
Classic '80s training scenes in movies
11. Bloodsport (1988)
A fair amount of losing and getting beat up by your master always makes the success of training and progress taste sweeter. This is the case for both Frank Dux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) and the audience. And everyone knows how important "serving tea blindfolded" is when training for the Kumate.
Not to mention the iconic final triumph of Frank pulling the ropes tight after being quite tortured by them. Van Damme movies often paid this much attention to the training montage. Kickboxer is a classic honorable mention.
Training in movies
10. Rocky IV (1985)
The greatness of the Rocky IV training montage undoubtedly stems from the contrast. The ruggedness of Rocky’s training in the wilderness and DIY training tools up against Russian boxer Ivan Drago who is using the most cutting edge training regimen. Rocky IV is undoubtedly one of the best Rocky films in the franchise with the help of this scene.
Karate training in movies
9. The Karate Kid (2010)
The original Karate Kid (1984) certainly has an iconic training regimen (karate disguised as chores) and a classic one-liner ("Wax on, wax off") but it lacks in the training montage department. This isn't the case with the Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith remake.
Here Dre Parker (Smith) is put through a grueling sequence, including running in mud, high-kicking on the Great Wall and another triumphant climax involving the splits.
Best training scenes in movies
The montage in The Dark Knight Rises works because of both how visual and metaphorical the goal of the training is. Bruce Wayne must escape Bane’s prison after Bane quite literally destroyed his body. What ensues is a test not only of Bruce Wayne’s body, but also of his will and faith.
Best training scenes in Rocky franchise
7. Creed (2015)
In a film that gracefully handed off a heavy torch, this movie training montage from Creed felt like the literal passing of a torch. Rocky and Sylvestar Stallone pass knowledge, experience and motivation to the new generation of both fighters and actors. Not to mention the cinematography and score elevate the emotion of the scene.
Hilarious training scenes in movies
6. Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
While the training montage is most popular in some of the best action movies, it can be a pivotal scene in a comedy as well. All to get a girl, this hilarious montage serves as both satire and as an uplifting piece of nostalgia simultaneously — a difficult feat.
Training in movies
5. The Incredibles (2004)
When it comes to visual storytelling in animation and in general, few do it better than Pixar. The storytelling in this movie training montage from The Incredibles is both rhythmic and suspenseful as we become in conspiracy with Mr. Incredible and his heroe training endeavors.
Best Batman training scenes
4. Batman Begins (2005)
As one of the best training montages in movies, this Batman Begins scene fires on all cylinders. The location, the action, the emotion, and the triumph all climax at a pivotal point in the film’s plot. Bale across Neeson is a student master combo that just makes sense on screen.
Best training montage songs
3. Team America: World Police (2004)
The song quite literally tells it all. It’s called a montage. And it’s epic. The satire hits home with the addition of the not so subtle lyrics of the scene’s song. Meta? Perhaps. Hilarious? You bet. We can’t expect any less from Trey Parker and Matt Stone — creators of The Book of Mormon and South Park.
Best training montage songs
2. Mulan (1998)
Speaking of songs, the tune of I’ll Make a Man Out of You in the Mulan training day scene is perhaps the most iconic song on this list. It’s undoubtedly one of the more iconic scenes from the classic film. Mulan became the first to retrieve the arrow after thinking differently and creatively made the triumph hit even harder at the end of the montage.
Best training scene of all time
1. Rocky (1976)
We know we already brought up the cliché of the classic-ness that is the original Rocky training scene, but some things are a cliche for a reason. The song itself in the scene has become an anthem for motivation. The scene has been parodied to death exercise to exercise. And of course, there’s the stairs. What better visual metaphor for triumph than the stone stairs that overlook Philadelphia — he's not just fighting for himself, he's fighting for his city.
Best Action Movies of All Time
Many of the best training montages of all time come from some of the best action movies of all time. Check out a complete list of what we think are the best action packed films ever in our next article.