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I’ve never been a fan of the Rocky films, I saw the original Rocky at a mate’s 11th birthday party, didn’t like it and ever since tried to avoid the movies. I’ve seen bits of Rocky 2 and 3, and have seen Rocky IV (the only one that I felt demanded roman numerals) due to the participation of Dolph Lundgren, as he is the FINEST ACTOR OF ALL TIME (see his roles in The Punisher and Johnny Mnemonic for why. I may be ill in the brain), but have never returned to the Rocky series. However, after the release of Rocky Balboa I felt that I should probably have look, especially as the reviews were surprisingly good for something that, purely based on “artistic ideals”, probably shouldn’t be – reviving the Rocky franchise does smack of Sylvester Stallone needing a new boat and not wanting to dip into his current account too heavily. So, Uncle Lovefilm came through and Rocky Balboa (along with Angel-A [rather good, Rie Rasmussen is on the official lovely list] and Robot Chicken: Star Wars [as I said on 12 Seconds – 22 minutes of awesomeness]) hit the mat at the end of last week.

Coming to it without a lot of the baggage that most watchers might, I was expecting to be disappointed with the film – their formulaic structure, the fact that Sly Stallone is the lead actor (and writer and director) and the fact that they are generally billed as “sports films” has turned me off them and led me to expect little. However, to preempt this review a bit, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not perfect, by any means, but I stopped looking at Twitter and focused myself on a film for the first time in ages. It’s quite unbalanced, barely touching on Paulie and his redudancy, while flashing up pictures of Adrian at every opportunity, but it follows the formula – Rocky exists, something happens, there is some adversity, Rocky trains, Rocky fights, the film ends. There’s no Eye of The Tiger, but there’s a training montage and a boxing match, and as much as I may have dissed Stallone in the past, and also not have many memories of the other films, the hairs on my arms still rose as he ran up the museum steps.

The plot is simple and most of the elements aren’t particularly expanded. There’s the girl Rocky escorted home in one of the other films, her son, her dog, Paulie and the failing career of Mason “The Line” Dixon (in real life i think that anyone naming their son Mason Dixon needs to be slapped for the good of mankind) and they are all briefly touched on, just enough to make the audience fill in the blanks. Then we get to the fight, which is what this is all about, and it’s what we wanted – Sly certainly does know how to put together a fight sequence. Every review I’ve read and heard has kept quiet about the ending, suffice to say what I will say now – it’s the way the series is meant to end.

So, I recommend it, despite being a year behind everyone else, and now feel a need to reexamine some of Sly’s other movies. I was thinking about watching his Get Carter remake, but after a small interlude of beating myself in the face and head I got over that, so think I’ll go with Cop Land for now, another film I half watched years ago – I suspect Mr Stallone deserves a second chance from me.


Comment from Guy Samson
Time 6th October 2008 at 1:09 am

Don’t get me wrong: Get Carter is one of the finest films ever made and shouldn’t have been touched, but I have to say that Sly’s remake isn’t nearly as bad as it should’ve been. May I also recommend Paradise Alley (his foray into the world of wrestling), Over The Top (his foray into the world of arm-wrestling) and the totally awesome Demolition Man:

Wesley snipes at Sly
And never mind the Bullock,
Denis Leary rocks.

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