Big Screen Art

The Latest News About Movies, Music, Events and Celebrity

10 Great Training Montages From Iconic Movies

10 Great Training Montages From Iconic Movies

Everyone loves a good training montage. It’s the type of scene that’s welcome in just about every movie it appears in – not just sports movies. Seeing a character perfect a skill or set of skills through fast-paced edits, exciting music, and visuals of something difficult slowly getting easier and easier in the space of just a few minutes is always immensely satisfying to witness.

Some of the following movies could be classified as sports movies, but not all, showing the impressive versatility of the humble training montage. Hard work can sometimes pay off in real life, sure, but it always really pays off in training montages, making them one of the best examples of cinematic escapism. For anyone looking for a little inspiration and motivation, the following films and their training montages will have you covered.


1 ‘The Incredibles’ (2004)

The Incredibles, Mr. Incredible

The Incredibles is a superhero action movie, a family drama/comedy, and a look into the hardships of being middle-aged all at once. It takes place in a world where superheroes have been outlawed, forcing Bob Parr and his super-powered family to live in secret. However, he’s called back into action for a mysterious mission; one which ends up getting the rest of his family involved, too.

RELATED: Intense Training Montages From The ‘Rocky’ & ‘Creed’ Movies, Ranked From Worst to Best

As he’s been out of action for so long, getting called to do another superhero-related job means Bob needs to get back in shape. This is done through a quick yet very effective training montage involving him working out the way you’d expect someone with super-strength to work out… instead of pulling and lifting weights, Bob uses train carriages.

2 ‘Lagaan’ (2001)

Lagaan: Once upon a time in india

An entertaining and exciting sports film with a revolutionary spirit, Lagaan is easily the best film about cricket of all time. It makes the notoriously slow sport genuinely fun to watch, thanks to its underdog story involving the townspeople of a small village in India participating in a wager with British rulers in the late 1800s. Said wager involves the two sides playing a high-stakes game of cricket between each other, with the villagers being granted three years of tax-free living if they win, and needing to pay triple their usual taxes if they lose.

The Indian team, however, has no prior experience with the sport, which is where the underdog nature of the story comes in. Much of the film is spent on their training before the climactic match depicted in the film’s final act, which means plenty of fast-paced training montages mixed in with the well-written character development for the ragtag, lovable squad of inexperienced cricketers.

3 ‘The 36th Chamber of Shaolin’ (1978)

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin - 1978

One of the best martial arts movies of all time, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, stands out for being most celebrated for its training scenes over its fight sequences. It’s usually the other way around when it comes to martial arts movies, but The 36th Chamber of Shaolin focuses intensely on the grueling process of learning to become a martial arts master.

RELATED: The Most Underrated Classic Martial Arts Movies, According to Letterboxd

It’s for the better, because seeing the film’s protagonist take on challenge after challenge and slowly accumulate skills is a ton of fun to watch. There are so many training montages and so much expertise being learned that when the time comes for the protagonist to fight and display his skills, it’s almost an anti-climax because he’s just that (understandably) powerful.

4 ‘Mulan’ (1998)


A classic animated film about identity, war, and tiny talking dragons, Mulan is one of the most beloved Disney movies of the 1990s. It follows the title character, who takes the place of her father after he’s conscripted for military duty. To pull this off, she disguises herself as a man and successfully joins the army while keeping her true identity a secret.

Seeing as the recruits need training before they’re sent off to battle, part of their time at boot camp involves learning to be warriors, with much of this done through a training montage. The one in Mulan is particularly iconic because of the music used: “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” is an absolute earworm of a song, and makes the scene that much more memorable.

5 ‘Rocky’ (1976)

Rocky 1976 running

There’s probably no other series in film history as renowned for its training montages as the Rocky series. Across six Rocky movies and two (soon to be three) Creed movies, viewers are treated to at least one training montage per film, and they often serve to be the best part of each installment in this long-running series.

But for as many training montages as there are to pick from when it comes to Rocky, the original is still the best. Cutting between Rocky exercising in the gym, punching raw meat, and running around the streets of Philadelphia while “Gonna Fly Now” plays is peak cinema, and deservedly regarded as one of the most iconic training montages of all time… if not the most iconic.

6 ‘Hercules’ (1997)

Hercules, 1997
Image via Disney

Disney seemed to be really into training montages in the late 1990s, seeing as Hercules featured a memorable one only one year before Mulan (1998) did. It’s needed for the title character’s transformation from a skinny kid into a mighty warrior, becoming the hero he was always destined to be.

And of course, muscles aren’t necessarily everything, but when you have mythological beasts to fight, a little bit of extra strength certainly doesn’t hurt. That he also does this under the tutelage of a satyr who goes by the name “Phil” makes it even better.

7 ‘Kill Bill Vol. 2’ (2004)

Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)
Image via Miramax Films

The first half of Kill Bill features tons of blood-soaked action, though Vol. 2 slows things down a little, and only features one extended fight sequence in the entire movie. However, Kill Bill Vol. 2 is satisfying when it comes to tension and dialogue, and it also spends time showing how The Bride learned her fighting skills via an extended flashback.

RELATED: Classic Movies That Most Directly Inspired The Works of Quentin Tarantino

The training scenes with Pai Mei make for some of the best moments of the film, and it’s also a clever throwback to martial arts training montages of old. Even better is the fact that the lead actor of The 36th Chamber of ShaolinGordon Liu – here plays the master instead of the student, which is a nice touch casting-wise.

8 ‘Ratatouille’ (2007)

Ratatouille - 2007
Image via Walt Disney Pictures

The first Pixar film directed by Brad BirdThe Incredibles – featured a training montage, and so it’s not surprising to see his second Pixar film, Ratatouille, also have one as well… sort of. It’s not training in the traditional sense, but the montage is more there to show Remy and Linguini bonding and improving their communication with each other.

This is essential, of course, given Linguini needs Remy to help him cook, but Remy is a rat who can’t visibly set foot in the kitchen Linguini needs to cook in. Having Remy hide under Linguini’s chef’s hat and control him by pulling his hair understandably takes them a while to figure out, which is where the always reliable training montage comes in handy to speed up the process of watching it for the audience.

9 ‘The Karate Kid’ (1984)

Image Via Columbia Pictures

After the Rocky series, the next most iconic long-running sports movie series might well be The Karate Kid. The first movie from 1984 certainly holds up as a classic underdog movie, focusing on a young kid named Daniel who’s frequently targeted by bullies and learns to defend himself thanks to the help of the old – and very wise – Mr. Miyagi.

Much of Daniel’s training takes the form of monotonous chores, with the intent to discipline his mind and his ability to be patient as much as his body. The movie also includes some more traditional physical training for good measure, with a decent chunk of it playing out through montages as the climactic fight draws nearer.

10 ‘Team America: World Police’ (2004)

Team America_ World Police - 2004
Image via Paramount Pictures

Even though Team America: World Police makes fun of the training montage trope through its own memorable training montage, it’s hard to deny that it’s also kind of effective. It’s intentionally silly and cynical, yes, but the training montage song about doing a training montage is impossible to forget once heard.

It’s naturally par for the course, when it comes to Trey Parker and Matt Stone, as they frequently like to make fun of everything in the movies and TV shows they create. They do the parody so effectively here that it may as well work as the real thing, and even if not, it’s a memorable enough scene that it’s hard to think about serious training montages without also thinking about the spoof montage from Team America.

NEXT: Miyagi Lessons From ‘Cobra Kai’ Season 4