The Olympic Games have finally arrived in our fair city of London, the weather has been surprisingly lovely so far and no major transport delays just yet. For months us Londoners have been bombarded with messages to change our traveling times, use alternative routes, work from home or become a full-blown shut in for the duration of the games. So, why not do your part for the transport system by staying indoors and watching a movie.
Keeping with the sporting theme, this week’s Sunday Afternoon Movie is a dignified send off for one of the silver screen’s most iconic sporting heroes. Most of Hollywood and let’s face it, the world, thought a sixth Rocky installment was a bad idea. The first two movies were always my favourite, and so rarely does man and material match up so well, but considering Stallone wrote the screenplay he tailored the character of Rocky Balboa to suit himself perfectly.
After a less than fitting end to his story in Rocky V, Stallone wanted one more bout for the character that introduced him as a movie star. When we first catch up with Rocky, he’s a shadow of his former self but is getting by thanks to the restaurant the owns. His wife and soul mate Adrian has been dead a few years and he desperately wants to reconnect with his son.
Rocky is trapped living with the ghosts of his past, his friend Paulie still stands by him but the former champ is in a personal slump. A computer generated fight featuring Rocky and the current champion Mason ‘The Line’ Dixon gets people talking, so much so that Mason’s promoters want to set up an exhibition fight.
Cue to montage.
This is a small movie it has been made with love and has a huge heart, shockingly the production budget was $24 million, the previous Rocky film cost almost twice that back in 1990. There’s a real sense that Stallone was more concerned with making a solid movie than making money, obviously he doesn’t want it to fail but like Rocky himself, Stallone has nothing left to prove. There are genuine moments of tenderness, not of the romantic kind but of a man giving his all for one last moment in the spotlight.
Okay, so the plot is highly unlikley, there have been science fiction movies with a more believable storyline but you either go with it or you don’t. Rocky was the ultimate underdog story for a generation, stripped of his riches and fueled by a need to let the beast within out one last time a near 60 year old Stallone fights with all the heart and passion of his 30 year old self.
There are great little cameos from previous characters, Apollo Creed’s trainer Duke pops up to train the aging fighter, Pedro Lovell reprises his role from the first movie as Spider Rico and Marie is back but played this time by Geraldine Hughes. Stallone revisited his other franchise a couple of years later with a fourth Rambo, whilst it wasn’t quite on par with Rocky Balboa it reminded us that the Sly could still cut it as a one man army. Rambo also served as a back to basics type action movie, and The Expendables may not have happened without it.
The DVD has a bunch of reasonable extra features the best of which include, a brief behind the scenes, a feature length commentary from Stallone and an alternative ending that saw Rocky win the fight. In the end I think the right ending was chosen, it mirrors the first movie so well and ends on an overwhelming sense of closure.
It’s a rare thing to give a character a respectful send off, some go out on a whimper but with Rocky Balboa an iconic cinematic character is given a fitting and heartfelt goodbye. His whole life might have been a million to one shot, but by god what a shot it was.Pin It