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Guilty Pleasures – Rocky V

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Rocky V (3)

Do you like Rocky? Of course you like Rocky! Everyone like Rocky! And chances are, the particular Rocky film that you dig is either number 3 or 4. They’re both damn good films, examples of pure underdog spirit and determination in comparison to the down-on-hi-luck exploits in the first two flicks. And I refuse to believe that Rocky Balboa was an officially sanctioned film.

But Rocky V? That one treads a fine line between the two distinct phases of the Rocky franchise. It has a lot of hate, a lot of detractors. But over the years, it’s aged beautifully, and it deserves a higher spot on the Rocky list with the all time greats.

Reluctantly retired from boxing and back from riches to rags, Rocky takes on a new protege who betrays him; As the champ’s son must adjust to his family’s new life after bankruptcy.

I think one of the things that people didn’t like about this film, is that it tore Rocky a new anus. Having been brain-punched so hard by Ivan Drago, Rocky couldn’t box no more for a living. Hell, bumping his head would send the poor schlub into a coma, he was that bad off. And then to make things worse, his accountant has delivered a KO to his bank accounts, and cheesed it.

Rocky V (2)

Suffice to say, it was not a good day for ol’ Balboa. With his worldly possessions now the property of someone else, and his son having mysteriously aged by several years over the course of a few weeks while he was away in Russia uppercutting communism out of that country, Rocky moves back into his old neighborhood and attempts to start over again. Yadda yadda, challenges of life, normality and all that jazz.

And then along comes boxer Tommy Gunn. Rocky grooms him, trains him to be the champ, a story which ends well…Until Don King surrogate George Washington Duke ruins everything. That’s a great story for a Rocky film. And when you look at it, Tommy Gunn is the real anti-Rocky. The dark reflection, the man Rocky could have become if he didn’t have a heart or anyone to keep him in touch with the real world.

Rocky V (4)

I think Tommy Morrison and Stallone played well off of each other, as student and master. They’re polar opposites, fighting a battle that becomes very personal as the film progresses. And it leads up to that magnificent street fight at the end. It’s a Rocky movie at its best.

From that moment that Rocky tells Gunn to try and knock him down, I got goosebumps. The fight had it all. Back and forth action, heart, anger and brilliant choreography. Hell, they even resurrected Mickey for one final scene. If that line of “Get up ya son of a bitch! Get up! Mickey loves ya!” doesn’t move you, then you’re probably dead inside by the time the theme music hits.

Dammit, this is my favourite Rocky. Because it shows the man at his best and worst. He gets deconstructed, watches his dreams die and bounces back with more courage and charisma than ever before, as he fights not for a belt for once, but for himself.

And it’s a damn shame that this film got savaged at the box office. It deserved better.


Last Updated: June 19, 2013

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