Rocky V wasn’t bad … just out of place

For much of the last week, I’ve been on a Rocky kick. And trust me, soon enough I’ll put the stuff out of mind and return to the wonderful world of card blogging. But for the time being, I’ve got some stuff I’ve got to get off my chest as it pertains to one Rocky Balboa and his series of movies.

Many told me to stay away from Rocky V, and of course Bill Simmons at ESPN has already stated that he tried to forget the fifth installment. If I remember correctly, he wrote somewhere that it didn’t even happen. (Hat Tip to Mr. Simmons, by the way, I’m reading your book “Now I can Die in Peace.” Funny stuff.) Well, I decided to watch the movie last night and I’m glad I did.

Was it a good flick? No. Was it as bad as everyone made it seem? No. Was it unwatchable? Almost … but not because of the story line, but partly because of the poor dialogue and execution, and the cliche early 90s Hip-Hop influence.

I had the fortune of watching this series of movies — note, I’ve yet to see the latest, so plan on reading at least one more Rocky installment — in a post-hype time. I didn’t have to fight people at the box office to find a good seat to watch it on the big screen. Instead I sat in the comfort of my own home and watched the flicks over a five-day period, mainly while waiting for my 5-month-old daughter to wake up so I can feed her before MY bedtime.

When I finished Rocky IV, I was satisfied. But I knew Rocky V was sitting there on On Demand, and even though others had warned me not to watch it, I decided to because I had to know what the big deal was about the film.

In a nut shell, the movie seemed out of place and almost comedic. It took place in 1990 (14 years after the original installment), so there seemed to be a lot of typical early pop-influenced hip-hop music (which sucked in this film), poor fashion (I just wanted to rip that earring out of Rocky’s son’s ear) and of course a cameo by boxer Tommy Morrison, whose presence actually made this film seem like a joke. And don’t get me started on George Washington Duke, the wannabe Don King. All of these factors, combined with gut-wrenching dialogue (this was the first in the series that actually had swear words), made the film seem like a circus.

The ending was simply atrocious. What the hell was that street fight? The best part was Rocky telling Tommy Gunn (Morrison) that “I aint heard no bell” and challenging him to a final round. Of course Rocky comes from no where and uses some freakin’ drop toe hold on Morrison — a move I know he didn’t learn from Thunderlips — and then proceeds to pummel Gunn, and then flatten Duke with a single body blow!?!

I think the story line Stallone tried to give us kind of made some sense — Boxer contracts brain damage, can’t fight/ father and son waring over quality time, so young boy falls in with bad crowd / student versus mentor —  although I felt the execution was horrendous. It was supposed to be dramatic, but it ended up feeling like some Lifetime movie starring Nancy McKeon or Danica McKeller.

The film was unncesary. In journalism school, a professor once told me “you don’t need to put a bow at the end of every story.” The saying applies here as well. We were perfectly fine with Rocky taking down Ivan Drago in his native Russia. Rocky was still an American hero, a boxer who’d already retired as champion. ‘Nuff said.

A friend of mine said Rocky IV was the best, but I am wondering if his thoughts were influenced by the time in which he watched the film. We’re both in our late 20s (one of us turns 30 this year) which means that he likely watched Rocky IV when it came out, or soon thereafter. If that is the case, then he’s automatically prone to call that his favorite — we tend to think everything we watched as kids was awesome. Having watched all of these movies in recent days for the first time, I’m of the belief that Rocky IV was almost a joke as well. The one-liners in that installment are great, and the angle of Creed’s death is intriguing, but just another hurdle that Rocky must overcome somewhere in the middle of the movie in order to give himself  motivation to step into the ring and take down his rival.

For pure entertainment, Rocky III is my favorite. The soundtrack and introduction of Clubber Lang, coupled with Rocky losing a fight, (two if you count the thrashing that Thunderlips handed him in the boxer v. wrestler exhibition) made it a good watch. Rocky II was also great because we got to learn more about Creed, which ultimately made Rocky’s character stronger when he beat him in the end.

In all honesty, the series probably should have ended after No. III. By that point Rocky’s character was already starting to take a hit. He no longer was the poor and hungry fighter for whom we were cheering, rather some showboat, fan favorite whose appearance in the ring almost seemed forced. Instead what we ended up could be best summed up by the appearance of this song/video at the end of V.

As it pertains to Rocky’s enemies, I still think Apollo Creed was the best, probably because his character was easily identifiable. The role of a defeated champion who wants a return to glory is also cliche, but one that many people have experienced in their personal walks of life. Plus the dude looked like a boxer, thereby making the fight between Rocky and Apollo feel realistic.

Ivan Drago was great to watch because he was a destroyer; Clubber Lang was fun to listen to because of his mouth; and Tommy Gunn … no comment. But Creed was solid all the way through.

7 Responses to “Rocky V wasn’t bad … just out of place”

  1. Sir, you failed to note how E from “Entourage” was in “Rocky V.”

    Epic!

  2. Yeah, that was bullshit, too. E kicked the shit out of Rocky Jr., took his jacket and then pocketed his lunch money … only to become friends with him when Rocky Jr. knocked his ass out in front of the whole school. L-A-M-E.

    “I believe that belongs to me …”

  3. thebaseballstars Says:

    OK, guys born in the early 80s or late 70s can’t comment on rocky.

  4. 1moreround Says:

    I am a big fan of the Rocky movies. If you are a boxing fan you can pick out the things that are good and bad in all these movies. I did not mind the character of Tommy Gunn. A big white guy from the midwest who is considered a weak champion. Not an unrealistic thing. Plus a character we did not see in a previous Rocky movie. The big and only real problem I had with this movie was the street fight at the end. It should have been in the ring. Even if Duke had to set it up in another country because of Rocky’s health issues it still would have been realistic. I honestly think a ring fight at the end would have saved this movie from the abuse it takes. Maybe it still would be considered the worst of the franchise but I do not think it would be considered not worthy of the franchise.

  5. Rocky is amazing movie collection…it s like a real life story.i love this film series enough with all my heart…he make me to understand lot of things in my life.
    thank you very much sylvester stalone for this movie…God bless you.
    your fan lewis [leventeno@hotmail.com]

  6. I think that was a good rocky movie. I watched it today, and really liked the movie.
    When I decided to watch I was thinking that was a poor movie. It wasn´t.
    I liked, and I watched all the rocky movies.

  7. The critique of this movie is brilliant. I too felt that the whole New Jack Swing 90s vibe to the movie was atrocious. I grew up on hip hop, but I think its influence is out of place in the Rocky series. For me too, the street fight in the end was way too Hollywood and over-the-top. Well, it was just plain unrealistic and dumb. Gant as the Don King-like promoter was a really, really bad idea! Dumb, dumb movie!! Rocky V is shameful.

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