ROCKY BALBOA (dum...dum dum dum)

A heartfelt glow moves all over me when I think about the Rocky Films, in the days before you watch a flick with a “jab” of intelligence; the Rocky films ruled. Whether it be the smack fest laid down to Mr T as Clubber Lang, or the single handed destruction of communism in Rocky 4 (Dolph isn’t even Russian you know). It has been even been said that in the genre of sports drama, Rocky (the original and by far the best) was a seminal film in the 70’s, highlighting some excellent direction by John G. Avildsen and a talent filled screenplay by a young Stallone. It’s a story we’ve heard before, as movie studios take over, and profit rules, the films become a pale comparison of what they once were, concluding (so we thought) in the abysmal Rocky 5.

It's been nearly 20 years since Rocky 5 was in the cinema and the latest Rocky Balboa hit’s the screen leaving us with the question should The Italian Stallion be sent to the glue factory. We’ll give him a chance after all he’s now using his surname so give him a little respect!

Now Sly is 60 plus in real life and admittedly has a physique that is far far beyond what can be expected from the average grandfather. In this film Rocky B is placed in his 50’s (one off the cuff comment) and if you can ignore the gaping plot floors and dispend your belief at his return to the boxing square, the rest of the film flies joyfully along at an entertaining pace.Stallone has perhaps mellowed with age (and calcium deposits?) and in a flash of forethought which makes the film just about succeed decides to mimic the less flashy form of his original piece. Gone is the zealous and less rewarding production/editing of Rockys’ 3 to 5.

Adrian isn’t there (awe shucks it just isn’t the same without that cry) recently dead due to Cancer, and Rocky lives his life with ancient boxing stories told repeatedly in his homely restaurant. His son doesn’t understand him, and the lost father son relationship is played enough to give the film a subtext. It’s similar to the Mickey’s replacement father/trainer character in the originals. At one point it’s annoyingly unsubtle when Rocky attempts to mentor and protect a platonic friend’s son. The film initially plays slowly with simple themes for simple characters being displayed in an effort to make the obvious fight much more exciting; and in this way the film succeeds.

Eventually (hazarr!) a computer program recreates a fight between the current world heavyweight champion Mason “The Line” Dixon (amiably portrayed by Antonio Tarver) and our hero Rocky. It brings into question who would have won if the two had fought when both were at their peak, Rocky taking the egde with a digitised Right Hook! Soon the agents get involved, who are desperate to make the current champion an approval with audiences. The film edges into the training mode that we love from all of the other Rocky films, after Balboa excepts an invite for a match.

Stallone shows his talent behind the lens, particularly in the fight scenes, and in a nod to the modern desire for reality TV, directs the violence with much more realism than in previous outings. A successful touch to this film is that the pay-per-view boxing match is shown entirely in the right camera format and shooting style, making at least this part of the film appear as realistic as possible.

Is there a moral to the tale or a point to the story, the closing five minutes show the crowd’s reaction to Rocky. And it sums the whole film up, take from it what you will. I know this film is poorish and uses every cheap trick to make you try and like it. For me it’s great, one of those films that’s obviously not trying to be high art; you cant help watch it, enjoy it, then forget it till next time an evening is spare.

Rocky is bored of job.
Should he fight again right now?
Bye of the tiger.

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