Rocky V (1990) starring Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Sage Stallone, Burgess Meredith, Tommy Morrison, Richard Gant, Tony Burton directed by John G. Avildsen Movie Review

Rocky V (1990)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Sylvester Stallone and Burt Young in Rocky V (1990)

Rocky by Name Rocky by Nature

It's funny as every time Sylvester Stallone delivered another movie in the "Rocky" series I found myself growing more disappointed by the continual rehashes of the previous movies, basically a different look but the same formula. So when back in 1990 he decided to do "Rocky V", what was at the time meant to be the final "Rocky" movie, he did give us something different and I found myself not only disappointed by what he delivered but also because most of what made the "Rocky" movies entertaining had vanished.

Returning home after the fight with Ivan Drago, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone - Tango & Cash) finds his career coming to an end as signs of brain damage start showing and things are made worse when due to Paulie's (Burt Young - Once Upon a Time in America) stupidity their accountant has left them bankrupt. Forced to return to the streets of Philadelphia and run Mickey's old boxing gym, Rocky finds himself ignoring his own son Rocky Jr. (Sage Stallone - Daylight) as he trains up a rough street fighter called Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison) whilst also putting up with the goading of a boxing promoter who wants him to fight again.

Tommy Morrison as Tommy Gunn in Rocky V (1990)

In a way "Rocky V" tries to bring the "Rocky" story full circle returning him back to the streets of Philadelphia and with no money after his accountant robbed him. But before all of that in "Rocky" tradition the movie picks up where "Rocky IV" left off with Rocky defeating Drago and then giving us the first signs that this was to be the final movie with the great boxer starting to suffer the effects of taking one too many punches. A nice idea but almost rushed through so that we can get all the issues over Rocky not being allowed to box anymore out of the way with. The same can be said of the sudden decline into bankruptcy which is never truly developed. Shame because both elements entwined together could have been the basis of a good movie on their own.

But then things go seriously wrong with "Rocky V" because it has far too many elements going on. We have boxing promoter George Washington Duke trying to hound Rocky into returning to the ring, we have the young raw fighter Tommy 'Machine' Gunn who Rocky takes under his wing and trains up to be a contender which leads to family issues as Rocky starts to ignore his own son. It's different to what we've had before where the movies concentrated on Rocky himself overcoming the odds and it feels wrong, especially seeing this was meant to be the final fan fare for the iconic character.

Due to this shift in focus those elements from the previous "Rocky" movies, the underdog tale, the training montages and the big fight climax are either missing or fail to work. In many ways it lacks that heavily manufactured inspirational feel which made you feel like you could beat the odds and is worse off for not having it. In fact all it really achieves is to turn Rocky into an idiot as he ignores his own family and gets duped along the way.

Strangely the performances suffer as well during "Rocky V" as Stallone goes over the top playing the enthusiastic but dumb boxer, with an unease about his performance never seen in the previous "Rocky" movies. It's as if without his traditional storyline Stallone didn't know how to play Rocky and the finished performance is almost a comic character who delivers corny jokes which are cringe worthy. Elsewhere the performances suffer as well with Burt Young as Paulie and Talia Shire as Adrian strangely demoted to lesser supporting performances when in reality their characters should have been more pivotal to the drama.

Plus of course there are two other performances to mention and of course the first of which is Stallone's own son Sage playing his on screen son, Rocky Balboa Jr. I quite liked Sage's performance as the young Rocky, he was surprisingly good but the scenes between him and his father are really uneasy, as if Sylvester is being himself with his son rather than being the character and it doesn't work. The second performance is that of Tommy Morrison as Tommy 'Machine' Gunn who whilst having the raw power when it comes to the fight sequences showed his inexperience when it came to the acting causing him to rival Stallone for over the top acting.

What this all boils down to is that "Rocky V" is the poorest of all the "Rocky" movies and was a disappointing final climax to the iconic character, thank goodness Stallone dusted off the gloves for the impressive "Rocky Balboa" some years later. Everything about "Rocky V" is basically wrong and it lacks that inspirational, underdog feel which made the previous "Rocky" movies such great entertainment.

Tags: Boxing Movies