trailer). It seems no matter who I talk to they consider this the only bad installment of the six Rocky movies. That is saying something because Stallone passed on directing this one after directing the last three films himself as Rocky V reunites Stallone with the man who won a Best Director Academy Award for the first film, John G. Avildsen. So join me while I try and figure out what made everyone despise this film so much.
Even though it was released five years after the previous film, it picks up immediately after Rocky IV. The film opens like the last three films with a highlight reel of the final fight of the previous film, which was an intense 15 round slugfest between Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and Ivan Drago (Dolph Lungdren). Rocky V then cuts to the locker room right after the fight where Adrian (Talia Shire) is consoling Rocky, who is having complications after all the fierce blows he absorbed from Drago. Doctors tell Balboa he has suffered permanent brain damage from the fight and as a result the athletic commission must force Rocky to retire. To make matters worse, longtime friend/goofball Paulie (Burt Young) was conned by the family accountant into signing away all of the Balboa’s money and now the Balboa’s are broke and must move to a modest home back in the old Philadelphia neighborhood where Rocky started off in the first film.
While Rocky V gets a lot of flak, I will give some props to Avildsen and Stallone for making it a serious sports drama again, and dialing back the off-the-rails campy nature of Rocky III and IV. It was nice to see MGM shooting for a return to form and try to tell a serious story again. I loved that Rocky and Adrian started wearing their vintage attire from the 70s again, and that the couple embraced their Philadelphia roots and that Rocky stopped wearing the corporate suits and amped up that lovable Italian accent again that he mastered in the first two films.
I do not have a problem with Tommy Morrison’s portrayal of Tommy Gunn, who perfectly nails the role of the hungry up-and-coming prospect. I do not mind that the film gets a little too predictable, and that you see Tommy turning on Rocky coming from a mile away as his early success with Rocky goes to his head as he joins forces with Duke so he can get a world title fight. I do not like how the film has the press absolutely trash Tommy in the press conference right after his world title victory proclaiming him as a paper champion right after he wins the title. This causes Tommy to flip out and Duke convinces Tommy to challenge Rocky to a match to prove himself to all the doubters.
parking lot brawl to close out the film.
What Stallone and Avildsen did made sense by trying to deliver a big time fight within the proper storyline parameters that Balboa is capable of as I described in the preceding paragraph. They tried to go as all out as they can with a pretty lengthy back and forth brawl in the parking lot to give the feeling of an epic final showdown. It was a fine fight scene, but the problem is that it just does not compensate for the traditional main event, in-ring fight that happened at the end of the previous four films. That was always what the previous films built up to, and that was settling the score in the ring with all the glitz and glamour of a big time TV fight. I will again give MGM credit for them trying to make it work, and I think on paper the plot sounded like a good compromise, but in execution it felt like a cheapened replacement effort that ultimately did not sit well with me. I can only imagine how audiences in the theater must have felt when they realized they were not getting the traditional, final in-ring encounter.
Past Rocky Blogs