Forced to retire from the ring, Rocky trains a promising young boxer who soon rises to national prominence. But when he turns against him, Rocky knows he must fight once more!
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"As long as they've got Balboa on the brain he'll always be champ. The man fought wars in the ring!" The original Rocky from 1976 was a masterpiece. Its first follow-up, 1979's Rocky II, was a strong sequel that retained the charms of its exceptional predecessor. Rocky III and Rocky IV followed in subsequent years, and the series deteriorated into a generic, cheesy action movie series without the heart or soul that initially characterised the franchise. For Rocky V, Sylvester Stallone cut down on the '80s excess and attempted to bring the titular character back down to earth. In an attempt to guarantee success, Stallone even hired John G. Avildsen - helmer of the original Rocky - to direct. But alas, this manufactured endeavour to capture the spirit of the original is a cloying, silly, awful cinematic abortion which completely lacks everything that made the Rocky series so endearing. Rocky V is not fun, nor is it uplifting, inspiring or motivating. As a drama it falls flat on its face, and as a piece of entertainment it's a dismal failure. Fresh from his upheaval of the evil Soviet empire in Rocky IV, Rocky Balboa (Stallone) returns to the United States to discover that his plane took ten years to land, and his son Rocky Jr. (played by Sly's son Sage) is now a teenager. Also, Rocky soon learns that he has irreparable brain damage and that all of his money has been lost by an unscrupulous financial advisor. Rocky is thus forced to retire from the ring and move back to his old low-rent neighbourhood in South Philadelphia with his wife (Shire) and son. Soon, Rocky begins coaching an up-and-coming boxer named Tommy "Machine" Gunn (Morrison). For lack of better word, Rocky V is a piece of shit. Those unfamiliar with the franchise will find it to be a naff, badly-written, boring drama, while Rocky fans will simply be depressed about how far the series has fallen. For starters, Balboa is never in the ring - he coaches (WTF?!) while Tommy Gunn does all the boxing. Even worse is the fact that the contrived plotline about Rocky losing his insurmountable fortune boils down to Paulie mismanaging their finances. Rocky and Adrian put Paulie in charge of their money?! Plus, what the fuck happened to the characters we used to know and love? Rocky is reduced to a pathetic shell of himself, living vicariously through a young punk boxer while his son - who is hurt and confused - stands by and watches his father become an asshole. A few films ago, Rocky was a lovable, humble, kind and gentle soul. Here, his behaviour is frequently embarrassing and his verbal bluster is no longer endearing. Rocky is an idiot here who ignores his family and gets duped along the way. Unlike the other Rocky films, this entry is dark and depressing throughout, with no redeeming payoff at the end. Due to the shift in focus and the decision to mangle the proverbial formula, all of the elements from prior Rocky movies - the underdog tale, the training montages, and the big climactic boxing fight - are absent, and the picture is worse for it. Without this stuff, the film is utterly flavourless. Even Bill Conti's score is terrible here - the trademark Rocky music was entirely excluded. Incorporating formula elements would have rendered the film by-the-numbers, sure, but at least it would have been fun. Worse, instead of a climactic boxing match, there's a street brawl that's as contrived as it is unsatisfying and cringe-worthy. On top of all this malarkey, there's a subplot about Rocky's son getting bullied at school. It's unrealistic, silly and poorly handled - essentially, kids steal Rocky Jr.'s lunch money and nobody does anything about it, so Rocky Jr. trains himself and dishes out brutal payback. Wouldn't there be consequences of such violence? Both parties could be charged for assault. Adding insult to injury, Rocky Jr. befriends the bullies after beating the snot out of them. What...the...fuck?! It's easy to understand why Stallone chose to cast his real-life son Sage as Rocky Jr., but the boy is far older than Rocky Krakoff (who played the role in Rocky IV), and it's obvious. This film takes place immediately after the events of its predecessor, but it's impossible to believe this because of the boy's age. In addition, Sage's performance is strictly average, and the silly earrings he adopts when he turns rebellious are just laughable. And, unfortunately, Sylvester Stallone's performance as Rocky ranks among his worst as an actor. For his work here, Sly copped a wholly deserved Razzie Award nomination for Worst Actor. Talia Shire was also nominated for a Razzie, and it's not difficult to ascertain why. Shire is simply awful here - she's shrill and annoying as Adrian. Meanwhile, boxer-turned-actor Tommy Morrison is serviceable as Tommy Gunn, and Richard Gant did a reasonable job as the arrogant boxing promoter. On the bright side, Rocky V was at least well-crafted by director Avildsen. However, the film still sucks due to the awful Razzie-nominated script that's beset with WTF moments and abysmal, cringe-worthy dialogue. While writing the script, Stallone chose to return Rocky to a life of poverty...which is exactly why this film is so wrong. What is the point of the entire series if all of Rocky's wealth is taken away at the end of it? In 2008, Stallone told BBC interviewer Jonathan Ross that if asked to assign a star rating to Rocky V, he would give it a zero. Surely that's a red flag? If you are a Rocky fan, Rocky V will drain your will to live. Give it a miss, trust me. Instead, after Rocky IV, go straight onto the far superior Rocky Balboa.
- PvtCaboose91, Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Wow, everyone hates this one but I really like it! Rocky goes back to his roots man and there is a nice little Burgess Meredith cameo in it too! Ok, Sage Stallone was annoying but out of all the Rocky films, this is far from being the worst. When Meredith said 'Get up you son-of-a-bitch cos Micky loves ya' it made me cry!
- SirPant, Thursday, August 27, 2009