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Rocky (1976)

You have a ringside seat for the bloodiest bicentennial in history!

Starring:

Billy Sands

Burgess Meredith

Burt Young

Carl Weathers

Jodi Letizia

Joe Spinell

Sylvester Stallone

Talia Shire

Thayer David

Tony Burton

Directed by:

John G. Avildsen

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 119 minutes

US Certificate: PG

On DVD

Sylvester Stallone may talk like English is his third language but there is no doubting that Rocky is a work of genius. Not only did the young unknown Stallone somehow write this, he also famously held out for the lead role, and got it. Anything he has done in the thirty years or so since hasn’t come close.

After running out of victims to beat in the ring, cocky boxer Apollo Creed (Weathers), has the highly unlikely idea of giving an unknown fighter the chance to fight him for the world title. He chooses Rocky ‘The Italian Stallion’ Balboa (not a porn star but a down-on-his-luck Southpaw from Philadelphia). We follow Rocky (Stallone), his grouchy trainer (Meredith) and the abusive Paulie (Young) through a punishing training regime on their way to a thrilling finale.

Rocky Balboa is a character made for the American people – the classic underdog given a chance by the neo-Liberal Fatherland to be a success. Nevermind that he is a thug who works for the local hoodlum, he’s an easy man to root for, mainly because Apollo Creed is such a smug jackass. Throw in a classic rousing film score, definitive montages and a liberal dose of flag-waving and you can’t help being so worked up that you want march down the local gym and sign up. If only real boxing was anything like the fight to the death we witness in Rocky and not stopped in the second round because one of the fighters is slightly dizzy. There’s even a romantic side story as Rocky inexplicably woos Adrian (Shire), the almost-mute pet shop employee with a man’s name.

There are plenty of iconic scenes that have been spoofed or copied by just about every teenager and sports film over the last twenty years, like the training scenes on the steps of the city hall and in the meat warehouse. It’s been parodied so much that a lot of it may look quite clichéd now but keep in mind that this was the template for what followed (including three okay and two awful sequels).

It's Got: Memorable soundtrack, montages, great fight scenes

It Needs: More realism. Maybe. Nah.

DVD Extras 2001 Special Edition. It's got: Exclusive interview with Sylvester Stallone and audio commentary (available with subtitles), 'Behind the Scenes" Featurette, Original Trailers, Tributes to Burgess Meredith and James Crabe, 8 page booklet DVD Extras Rating: 8/10

Alternatives:

Cinderella Man, Hurricane, Rocky II-VI

Summary

Rocky is the definitive sports movie and Sylvester Stallone’s greatest work. Every boy must see this as a rite of passage into manhood. Adriaaaan!

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