Tag Archives: Sylvester Stalone

The Rocky Saga Round III

DING! DING! Round III.

Everyone, including Sylvester Stallone believed Rocky Balboa was the last film in the series and it ended perfectly with Rocky (and Stallone) saying a final goodbye to his fans.

But I guess you just can’t keep a great character down as Rocky is back in Creed.
Creed is not technically considered a true sequel to the Rocky franchise, but more of a spin off instead, a kind of passing the torch film if you will.
Now I have personally avoided as much as I can with this film as I want it to be a surprise. I watched the first trailer for the film and I know the synopsis. But I’ve left it at that.

So what is there to know about Creed?

Creed

Creed: Written by and directed by Ryan Coogler (no Sylvester Stallone for the first time in the series) picks up after the events of Rocky Balboa. Rocky is still running the restaurant, Adrian’s, when he gets a visit from a stranger.
A young boxer comes to Rocky and asks if he would train him. That young boxer is. Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s former rival and friend. Adonis was born after Apollo died so never knew his father.
Adonis is a fighter with so much spirit and passion, coupled with the blood of his father running through his veins and the up most respect for Rocky himself.

Rocky eventually agrees to help train Adonis and…that’s as much as I know about the film.

But from what I have seen, I’m really looking forward to it. It seems to be carrying on from the last film with its more grounded in reality approach and more character focused.
I have heard some rumours about the film from Rocky dying to a cameo from the man that killed Apollo, Drago. But rumours are rumours.

I have glanced at a few reviews and so far it is getting praised a lot. Sounds like its a good film.

I am looking forward to seeing this film myself and if successful, it could even become its own franchise.
In 30 years from now, we could be watching Creed VII.

Creed 2

Anyway, that is yer actual Rocky Saga right there all six (or seven) films summarised.
But what do I think of them and the series as a whole?

collection

The Rocky Saga: For me, there are plenty of ups and downs throughout the series. There are some genuinely heartbreaking moments and there are some downright stupid moments.

But as a whole collection, I love it. Even if boxing is not your thing there is still a whole lot to enjoy here as boxing is never the main focus of the films. Its the characters, the relationships and the stories that are always at the forefront. Boxing is just the backdrop the films take place against.

The fact that the soundtrack is pretty amazing helps to.
If you are somebody who had trouble getting up in the morning. Change the alarm on you phone to the main Rocky theme or Eye Of The Tiger, I guarantee you’ll hop out of bed thinking you can take on the world.

A great series of films that, despite more than a few times when it all gets silly, provides a great bit of storytelling and give us one of the most charming and endearing characters ever caught on film with Rocky.

So what do I think of each of the films?

Rocky: It’s a simple story but told really well. It’s a basic underdog tale that had been done to death. Yet this version seems quite refreshing.

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky is believable and also shows that Stallone can write and act. The supporting cast are also golden.
Rocky did win 3 Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing. As well as being nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Sylvester Stallone), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Talia Shire), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Burgess Meredith and Burt Young), Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Sylvester Stallone) as well as Best Sound and Best Music.
Brilliant film and for me, the best of the lot.

Rocky II: Was there a need for a sequel? Not really, the first film is one that stands on its own. But we got a sequel (several in fact) and for the most part I really enjoy this one.

However, there is one major thing that bugs me about this film. That is how stupid Rocky is made out to be. Now granted, Rocky had never been the sharpest knife in the draw. But he was never “stupid”.

Yet in this film (to paraphrase another film) they go full retard. Rocky can’t read…since when? He managed perfectly fine in the first film. All the jokes shoehorned in to play on how stupid Rocky is, like the condominium thing. The fact Rocky blows all his money on fast cars and a nice jacket, etc.
He is just a complete imbecile in this one.

Again Rocky was never a mastermind…but he was still smart, he always had a good head on his shoulders. He was never dumb, yet that is how he is portrayed in this film.
If they ever made an Airplane! style parody of Rocky, this is how the character would be portrayed, directly from this film as the character almost seems like a parody anyway.

Good sequel, but the way they dumbed down Rocky as a character was annoying.

Rocky III: I really enjoy this one more than Rocky II for two main reasons.

1) Rocky is not a complete moron any more.
2) Mr.T.

I love Clubber Lang, by far my favourite Rocky villain. Everything he does is pure awesome. His put downs and insults, the character is just so alive. This film is also where “I pity the fool” comes from.
This film launched the career of Mr.T and it was this role that landed him a part on The-A-Team TV show.

Mickey’s death is quite heartbreaking and the whole idea of Rocky being blinded by his own celebrity status was an interesting dynamic as was bringing in Apollo as Rocky’s trainer. Giving some insight and building on their friendship and respect they have for each other.

Good sequel and great extension of the characters.

Rocky IV: Okay, now things get really, really stupid.

This film is both one of the most silly, over the top, redundant films ever made and yet also one of the singular most amazing things ever committed to film.
Its a terrible Rocky film and sequel, but also such a great film to sit back and enjoy.

There are problems with the writing. Like if Rocky was so adamant Apollo should postpone the fight, why did he wait until minutes before the fight started to tell him? Then seeing as Rocky was fully aware at how dangerous Drago was, why did he throw the towel in AFTER Apollo gets beaten senseless and not before? Yeah Rocky, its your fault Apollo is dead.

But you know the worst thing in this film? That damn talking robot given to Paulie for his birthday present. A talking robot…in a Rocky film? People got upset over aliens in Indiana Jones, that was nothing. It may have o ly been in a couple of scenes but still, that was enough to be unbelievably annoying.

Then there is Drago himself who is basically a super human. Some kind of mega boss battle you’d find in a video game. I really like Dolph Lundgren in the role and the character…but he was still a bit too over the top really.
To finish, that damn ending where Rocky ends the cold war and unites America and Russia as friends. Its all just a tad too cheesy and clearly a film of its time. I’m sure people were up out of their seats watching this back in 1985 (unless you were Russian), but now it is a little cringe worthy.

Still that James Brown introduction for the Creed/Drago fight was awesome. Best fight introduction ever.

Yet as I said, despite its problems Rocky IV is a fun film to watch. Really damn stupid but still a whole lot of fun.

Rocky V: Pretty much universally hated. Even Sylvester Stallone himself has disowned this one (not Rocky IV with its talking robot and superhuman Russian). The next film, Rocky Balboa has a flashback to every Rocky film previously…except this one.

You know, I really like this one though. Yeah the whole father son thing is tedious and feels shoehorned in just because Sage Stallone was playing the son and the bullying sub-plot is just pointless. But I still enjoy this film as it gets back to reality and back to characters.

Tommy was a great character and a refreshing change to see someone turn on Rocky like he did, despite all Rocky did for him.
There are plenty of throwbacks and references to the original film with Rocky back in his old neighbourhood. I enjoy the idea of Rocky becoming the mentor figure that Mickey once was to him.

Plus that final street fight is amazing and good to see something different from the norm in a Rocky film.

Yeah, despite Sylvester Stallone really, really hating this film himself and many of the fans agreeing. I’ll always stand by Rocky V as a better sequel than IV and one that gets things back on track. I just have to ignore Sage Stallone as Robert Balboa and the film is great.

Rocky Balboa: I was one of those that made the old jokes when this film was announced. Really, another Rocky film with an ageing Stallone? As much as I love the films, Rocky V was enough and where it should have ended.

I even made the pre-decision to not bother to watch this one and avoided it for ages.
Then I brought the Rocky DVD box set and this film was included, so may as well watch it.
To be quite honest, I was blown away. The film is the best since the original and really gets back to basics.
Its all about characters with very little spectacle. Its a good honest story told well and written brilliantly.

Stallone gives an amazing performance as Rocky here and the whole film is full of emotion. Rocky taking his anniversary tour of the places he used to go with Adrian just tugs at the heart strings. Plus there are a couple of well written speeches that mirror the kind of flack Stallone was getting for wanting to do this film. Like the speech Rocky gives at the boxing commission when he applies for a licence or the one he gives to his Robert when he tries to talks him out of fighting again.
Really puts me in mind of the original film.

The fact they filmed the fight with a real life boxer and all filmed during a real boxing match during a real pay per view event adds a lot of, well realism. Probably the best fight in the whole series.

The decision to replace the actor playing Rocky’s son (replacing Stallone’s real life son) was a tough but good idea as the dynamic between the two actors is brilliant. Stallone is better here acting alongside Milo Ventimiglia than he was with his real son Sage in Rocky V.
Killing off Adrian off screen was also a ballsy move and a gamble that really works as we now get to see Rocky with nothing, which was what he had at the start of his journey. This really helps and adds plenty of believability and gravitas to the character.

Great film and an apt end to the character that has lasted so long.

Bye

Rocky Balboa is one of my all time favourite film characters. He is simple but charming, tough but caring. Seeing the character grow from humble beginnings though his rise to stardom and his fall from grace over the series of films is an epic and emotional roller coaster.
He had endured for almost 40 years because he is such a great character. I already believed I said goodbye to the character at the end of the last film (and yes I had a lump in my throat), but he is back once more and I’m more than happy to see him again. But I will miss him when he finally is gone for good.

I can’t wait to watch Creed.

btn_donate_LG

Advertisements

The Rocky Saga Round I

Do you know that Rocky is almost 40 years old? The original film was released in 1976.

Rocky

With the seventh Rocky film in the series, Creed, released today (In America, I have to wait until January). I’m going to take a look at the previous six films in the franchise from the original Rocky through to Rocky Balboa, as well as take a quick look at Creed.
Plus I’ll offer my own views on the films and the series as a whole at the end.

Okay so technically Creed is not a Rocky sequel and more of a spin off. But you know people will just end up calling it Rocky VII anyway.

If You have never seen the Rocky films before. Then stop reading this crap and go watch them as I’ll be spoiling every film in the franchise here.

Let’s jump into the ring with the film that started it all…

Rocky wall

Rocky: Written by the unknown (at the time) Sylvester Stallone and directed by John G. Avildsen. Rocky is a simple story of an underdog boxer given a life changing chance.

Stallone plays the titular Rocky Balboa, a young amateur boxer that plys his talent in boxing matches with locals. Struggling to earn a living he also works as the muscle as a debt collector for some local gangsters.

Rocky is a simple man with simple pleasures and seems to be more than happy with his relatively poor lifestyle. He works out at Mickey’s Gym, a local dive for local amateur boxers. Over the road from the gym is a pet store, it is in this pet store Rocky meets the shy Adrian (Talia Shire).
They begin a friendship largely triggered by Rocky’s terrible jokes. The upfront and more direct Rocky slowly starts to get Adrian to come out of her shell. Their relationship slowly blossoms and they eventually become lovers. Adrian’s life is not all that simple with her overbearing brother, Paulie (Burt Young) constantly putting her down.

Out of the blue, the current heavyweight boxing champion, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) has an idea to offer an unknown boxer a chance of a title fight after his opponent has to drop out due to injury.
Creed decides to fight an everyday amateur as he thinks it would be good for his public image and a good gimmick to offer an amateur a chance as America is the land of opportunity. He chooses to fight Rocky based on his nickname of The Italian Stallion.

Rocky is both excited and anxious over the fight and actually first turns the opportunity down fearing he would get mangled going up against the current heavyweight champ.
But Rocky quickly changes his mind, takes the offer up and does decide to get in the ring with Apollo. He even (after some argument) takes old Mickey (Burgess Meredith) on board to be his trainer.

The fight goes the distance but Rocky ends up losing. However, it was never his intention to win to begin with. He was just happy to have been given to chance.

Rocky is a simple tale of a simple man but told with such passion and respect. The film is an all time classic, even if you can’t stand boxing its a must watch.
It didn’t even need a sequel, but…

Rocky II

Rocky II: Picks up directly where Rocky left off after the fight with both Rocky and Apollo taken to hospital for medical attention. This time Stallone not only is the writer but director too.

At the hospital, Creed is unhappy about the fight. He won the fight, but he didn’t beat Rocky he feels.
Creed feels he should have destroyed Rocky in the fight as he was only an amateur while Creed was heavyweight champ. Creed demands a rematch, but Rocky is adamant there will be no rematch and even says he is retiring (get used to that). Rocky has nothing to prove, he did what he set out to do just by taking part in the fight.
He gets on with his life now “retired” and asks Adrian to marry him, she says yes and they are soon expecting a baby.

Meanwhile Rocky made some money from the fight but blew it all on an expensive car, jewellery, buying a house, etc.
He tries to cash in on his five minutes of fame by appearing in some TV ads, but things do not go well when its revealed that Rocky can not read. Feeling the director is being rude, Rocky quits. Rocky is embarrassed and broke and ends up working in a meat packaging factory to try to make ends meet, until he is let go. Rocky needs money and starts selling his belongings including his car to Paulie. He starts thinking about fighting again but Adrian does not want him to as the Doctor found a problem with Rocky’s eye and suggests he doesn’t fight any more. She decides to go back to work at the pet shop to bring in some money to stop Rocky from fighting.

For weeks after the fight, Apollo keeps receiving mail from fans putting him down, asking how could the amateur Rocky make a fight go the distance against the heavyweight world champion?
This all starts to get to Apollo and he seriously starts to pursue a rematch and starts a campaign against Rocky to coerce him into a fight.

Finding it hard to pay the bills, worrying about his soon to be born son and caving to Apollo’s taunting. Rocky decides to take Apollo up on his offer of a rematch, much to Adrian’s disgust.

The fight is on and Rocky once again relying on his old mentor and friend Mickey to train him. But Rocky’s head is not in it as he is too concerned about Adrian and the baby. While Rocky is deep in his training with his head preoccupied, Adrian is rushed too hospital due to complications with the pregnancy. The baby is born premature and as a result, Adrian ends up in a coma. Rocky refuses too leave her side and gives up on the training and fight.

Adrian eventually comes around from her coma and is given the all clear and asks Rocky to do one thing for her…win.
With Adrian in the clear and with her support. Rocky begins his training once more and this time he takes it seriously.

Its fight night and everyone is excited. The rematch that nobody ever thought would happen is here.
Rocky wins this one this time via a KO and becomes heavyweight world champion, this is where the film ends.

Rocky II, despite its problems is a worthy sequel and continues the story really well. But what next for Rocky now he has beaten Apollo? Enter Mr.T.

Rocky III

Rocky III: Once again written and directed by Sylvester Stallone. We see Rocky as a very different man since the last film.

Rocky has now become a major celebrity and serious boxing champion winning fight after fight. He has money and fame.
The true underdog story has fans loving Rocky and all he had achieved. Rocky has become a mega-star in the boxing world and a celebrity in his own right.

But not everyone is a fan of Rocky. This is where we are introduced to Clubber Lang (Mr.T). A young, tough and hungry fighter. He is everything Rocky used to be before becoming famous.

Clubber picks a fight just as Rocky is announcing his retirement (again). Clubber starts to insult Rocky and Adrian and this spurs Rocky to agree to a boxing match.
Mickey refuses to have any part of it as he feels Rocky is not good enough any more and tells Rocky his title defences have all been set ups to help make Rocky look good.
Rocky convinces Mickey to train him for one last fight and promises to work hard.

This is where we get to see the extent to Rocky’s celebrity status as he doesn’t take the fight nor the training seriously and believes it will be a walk in the park.
Rocky’s training consists of him posing for pictures and kissing female fans and some light boxing training in between if he has time.
Clubber on the other hand goes old school and trains like like the hungry fighter he is.

The fight eventually comes around and on the way to the ring, Clubber starts the insults once more and this time Mickey is caught in the crossfire and ends up suffering a heart attack just before the fight. Rocky wants to postpone the fight but Mickey urges Rocky to carry on.

The fight goes ahead and due a combination of not taking the fight seriously (like Apollo in the first film), not training properly and worrying about Mickey. Rocky loses and loses big. This is not a fight that goes the distance and Clubber squeaks past on points. Rocky is destroyed and KOed in the second round. Clubber becomes the new heavyweight champion.
Rocky retreats back to his dressing room where Mickey is lying down after his heart attack. Mickey asks how the fight went and Rocky lies and tells him that he won, shorty after Mickey dies.

Apollo suggests a rematch with Clubber. With his friend, trainer and mentor gone. Rocky is just not interested in fighting any more.
Creed offers to help train Rocky with his trainer Duke (Tony Burton) for his rematch with Clubber Lang but only if he takes it seriously and Rocky trains Apollo’s way, eventually Rocky agrees to a rematch. Clubber is more than willing to take on Rocky again, he beat him once so why not again?
Apollo breaks Rocky down to rid him of his celebrity world he now lives in and rebuilds him as a tough fighter akin to how he used to be. Creed takes Rocky to an old, run-down gym where Apollo first started to train and uses outdated methods to get Rocky back on form.
Rocky’s heart is just not in it and admits to Adrian he is afraid. Adrian convinces Rocky to keep at it and he returns to the training.

Eventually fight night comes around and Creed’s training methods work. Its a brutal, tough fight, but Rocky wins by a knock-out to become heavyweight champ again and is back on top.

Here ends round I, but round II is up next where I look at the last three films in the series and Rocky gets more than a little “silly”.

btn_donate_LG