Archive for Rocky

Three days of silence

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , on March 26, 2010 by Cardboard Icons

Just a quick heads up, I’ll be silent for much of the next three days as I retire to the dungeon to prepare for a pair of fantasy baseball drafts this weekend. When I emerge, I should have formed solid teams that will thoroughly slay the competition.

Not writing about baseball cards during this time is essential to my focus. It’s much like a boxer who refuses to have sex until after the fight. It’s important to keep the eye of the tiger during these times and not be distracted by nonsense, like my Draft Day hat. Nonetheless, when I return I will share the results with you, as well as some other stuff I’ve come up with.  For now, let us focus on the task at hand.

Rocky V wasn’t bad … just out of place

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2009 by Cardboard Icons

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.

Finished Rocky I-IV, should I even attempt V?

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2009 by Cardboard Icons

As noted earlier this week, I finally got around to watching the Rocky series. Over the last four days I’ve managed to plow through the first four movies in this series and now I’m contemplating whether or not I should start the fifth. I’ve watched Rocky get his ass kicked twice by Apollo Creed, only to fight back in the end and walk away with the title both times. I saw Rocky get pummeled by Thunderlips in some stupid exhibition of wrestler versus boxer; then watched Rocky get his jock handed to him by Clubber Lang, but of course he came back in the end to be the champion. And then five minutes ago I saw the most ridiculous crap ever — Rocky faced Ivan Drago, who killed Creed earlier in the film, and again walk away the victor. Now I knew he was going to win, after all this is a movie, but someone explain to me how the hell Rocky sustained LESS damage to his face after facing arguably the baddest of his enemies in this series of movies?

Anyhow, as you ponder that one, help me figure out if I should even delve into Rocky V. I’ve heard some suggest that this movie should have never been made, that it tarnished the series. Knowing what you know about V, will I be better off bypassing V and going straight to Rocky Balboa? Is there anything that I’ll be missing by doing so?

Can I have my Man Card Now? I finally watched Rocky I & II

Posted in Newspaperman with tags , , , , , , , on June 15, 2009 by Cardboard Icons

I’m 29 years old and before this weekend, I was proud to say that I was one of maybe five men in the world who had not watched a single Rocky movie. Well, all of that changed this weekend while surfing the OnDemand section of my Comcast cable. Browsing through the free movies, it came down to watching Tupac Shakur in “Bullet” or start the “Rocky” series, which I knew was something that I’d have to watch at some point in my life. I chose the latter, and damnit, now I am hooked … and I want my Man Card back.

I’m not a fan of Sylvester Stallone, so that’s part of the reason why I stayed away from this series. But after learning to tolerate his ridiculous accent, I quickly learned these movies were worth watching — either for the motivational aspects or the freakin’ one-liners.

So, yeah. Now I am hooked and have three more movies — four if you count the one that was released this year — to watch. I leave you with this to start your Monday.