It’s been 16 years since Rocky V came and went without much fanfare. We all just assumed Rocky was done, but the truth is the man who created the character had one story left to tell. Sylvester Stallone returns to the character that made him famous. The result? The best Rocky film in 30 years.
Yo Adrian, Rocky’s back!
It’s been years since Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) has entered the squared circle. The former boxing champ now owns a small restaraunt in his home city of Philadelphia, named Adrian’s after his late wife (Talia Shire – who only appears in the film in flashbacks). His son (Milo Ventimiglia) has grown up resentful of his father’s legend and tries, without success, to distance himself from Rocky Balboa’s large shadow, desiring to be known for himself and not only as the son of the champ.
Rocky seems listless, his life consists of memories but little else. Here enter two catalysts which will alter his world and shock Rock out of his funk. The first is a young single mother (Geraldine Hughes), and the second is an ESPN computer generated fight of boxers from different generations – The Italian Stallion vs. the current Heavyweight Champion Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver).
These two unrelated incidents pull Rocky out of retirement for one last fight to prove something to himself and to go out the same way he came in – proving he can go the distance with the champ.
The film is nostalgic with Rocky running through the streets of Philadelphia, Paulie’s (Burt Young) wise-cracks, the Rocky theme and “Take it Back,” and some well done flashbacks of his past. This is the film Rocky V should have been. At least he gets it right this time.
The film feels true because so many boxers can’t stay away from the sport after they retire, or are retired – Sugar Ray Leonard, George Foreman, Evander Holyfield, and countless others. It is the story of a man with something left to prove that is the heart of the film. It’s a touching story that will engage and excite you. The film ends, of course, with Rocky’s final showdown in the ring, but the heart of the film is about being true to yourself and giving all that you have, and living your life without limits.
When the end credits rolled I exhaled and smiled. True it might be a decade late, but it was worth the wait. The series and the character finally get the final curtain call they deserve. Stallone done good.