A plea for Rocky V

I recently watched the whole Rocky saga (which celebrated its 40th Anniversary in November) including Creed as the character of Rocky is part of the movie. I heard a lot of things about it in general especially bad things about the fifth instalment as being the worst of all or a bad movie. Even Stallone himself rated this entry with a beautiful 0 out of 10.

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Call me weird but I preferred this one over Rocky Balboa. Now, hear me out: what I loved about Rocky V is the back to the roots feeling we have. Here is the synopsis: because of a bad investment authorized by Paulie, Rocky, who is now finally retired, and his family lose their entire fortune and have to relocate to downtown Philadelphia where the first movie started it all. Rocky is getting older and is now a trainer at Mickey’s old gym. Adrian got her job back at the pet shop. Robert Jr. (Played by Stallone’s late son Sage) starts school and is getting bullied. In the meantime a great new character is introduced, Tommy “The Machine” Gunn played by the late real life boxer Tommy Morrison. He wants Rocky to train him as he has the will and the motivation to become a champion, the eye of the tiger. At first, the retired boxer refuses, citing that he doesn’t want to do that. However, Tommy insists over and over and Rocky ends up accepting the challenge. This where it became really interesting for me. A bond is created, a bond you only see between a fighter and his trainer: Rocky and Mickey, Rocky and Apollo and now Tommy and Rocky. You can feel it in the movie and it is even addressed in it, after loosing his fortune, Rocky feels alive and has a reason to get up every morning. However, it has some consequences. This new relationship takes a lot of Rocky’s space in his life and he doesn’t have time for his family especially his son who looks up to him and need his help.

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Of course there is the George Washington Duke character, who is a little over the top but as a promoter, why wouldn’t he be? If he reminds you of real life boxing promoter Don King, it’s because Duke is based off of him. His presence clearly doesn’t add any depth or anything, it makes the movie less credible especially during the scenes when he pushes Rocky to fight his then protégé, Union Cane (played by real life boxer Michael Anthony Williams). It’s embarrassing to watch.

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Then you have Tommy “The Machine” Gunn who is my favorite character from this movie. He is a gullible young man with a certain talent for boxing. As we now and learn, he got some bad habits from the streets and has a tendency to not listen. Even though he only has eyes for Rocky at the beginning of the movie, Duke manages to get his claws around and starts throwing money, apartment, and cars at him. Needless to say that his friendship with Rocky is forgotten. Gunn is young, impressionable and flawed like someone his age with his mysterious history would be. Things get especially sour during a press conference when journalists (who are real boxing reporters) states that Tommy’s opponent from whom he just won the Championship belt from was not a real and decent adversary, thus doubting Gunn’s legitimacy. Rocky is still the champ by the way as he retired without losing his title. Naturally, Tommy wants to fight him so he can show once and for all that he is tough enough. Of course Balboa refuses leading to the best catchphrase of the movie: “My ring’s outside” ensuing a street fight. It’s very good and a welcomed change in the series.

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Rocky is victorious and all is well that ends well. This is also the last time we’ll see all the main cast of Rocky but I won’t spoil it here. I just hope that you’ll watch or re-watch Rocky V with a new and more forgiving eye.

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