Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
One star (which is still one more than Stallone gives it...)
on 4 March 2015
After losing his fortune and suffering irreversible brain damage, Sylvester Stallone's iconic boxer moves back to the Philadelphia backstreets he prowled before winning the title. Re-opening Mickey's gym and climbing back into clothes he hasn't worn for nearly 15 years, he discovers a second chance at success in the form of Tommy 'The Machine' Gunn (Tommy Morrison). But when the relationship sours, Rocky is forced to accept his protégé's challenge, resulting in a teacher Vs pupil showdown that's far too explosive to be contained by mere ring ropes.
What I think:
If you think a one star review is harsh, just ask Sylvester Stallone whether he agrees. Challenged by Jonathan Ross to rate his (until then) five Rocky movies, he happily played along. His mark for this instalment? Zero. And when you consider the fact that he only moments earlier awarded the jingoistic insanity of Rocky IV a full eight points, you get some idea about how bad this is.
Interestingly, reading my brief synopsis at the top of this review, it's evident that it didn't have to be anywhere near the disaster it turned out to be. The idea of a once great boxer training a talented up-and-comer, only for the youngster to become enraged by sitting in his master's shadow, is actually an intriguing one.
The problem is that Stallone spends so much time and effort trying to recapture the magic of the original that we're never able to forget just how far away in terms of quality this one falls.
In an effort to send the hero full circle, we're expected to believe that not only would Rocky be unable to make money from endorsements, TV appearances or publishing rights to his autobiography (despite the fact that he's just single handedly brought down communism) but also that he'll choose to move back into brother-in-law Paulie's (Burt Young) old house, reopen Mickey's dilapidated gym and start wearing his moth-eaten clothes from the 70s - all while wife Adrian (Talia Shire) returns to her job at the pet store.
Stallone's performance of the Italian Stallion is all off, too. No doubt realising his beloved character enjoyed a sudden onset of intelligence and sophistication during the 1980s, Sly attempts to transform him back into the punchy mook of old by inflicting him with a severe case of brain trauma - a result of the beating he suffered at the steroid-powered fists of Ivan Drago. Trouble is, he replaces the subtle, nuanced performance that won him an Oscar nomination in 1976 with a parody of increasingly exaggerated shoulder twitches, facial ticks and vocal slurs. It's Stallone PLAYING Rocky, rather than BEING Rocky.
And this is all before the introduction of George Washington Duke (a lazy Don King knockoff who's played purely as a moustache-twirling villain) drives a wedge of thousand dollar bills between Rocky and his young apprentice.
Even the climactic fight (traditionally a series highlight) is undermined, not so much by the setting (a street brawl at least makes a nice change from the ever more ludicrous bouts in the squared circle), but by the ridiculous scale of it all. Not only is it broadcast live on TV but a crowd of seemingly hundreds is on hand to cheer Rocky on... all while the police stand idly by until it's over.