Rocky (1976) starring Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Joe Spinell directed by John G. Avildsen Movie Review

Rocky (1976)   5/55/55/55/55/5

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in Rocky (1976)

Rocky’s Apollo Mission

Although "Rocky" is by no means the best boxing movie ever made, it is still one of the most famous and harks back to a time when Sylvester Stallone was better known as an actor, rather than just another action hero. On top of this, even though the premise of the movie is somewhat unbelievable and the fact that it mostly follows the predictable underdog story which dominates the majority of sports movies, the fact remains that "Rocky" is still very engrossing and I personally find myself feeling involved with the story, which for me is a sign of a great movie.

For years Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone - Driven) has been trying to make it as a boxer, whilst also working as a debt collector for a small time money shark. But when he finds himself falling out of favour with his manager, he feels his career may be over. The only thing which seems to be going for him is his relationship with local pet shop worker Adrian (Talia Shire - The Godfather: Part II). But when Heavyweight boxing Champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers - Happy Gilmore) next defence bout is cancelled, he decides to stage an exhibition bout between himself and a complete unknown, touting it as a chance for a 'nobody' to become a 'somebody'. Offering Rocky the chance at a crack at the Heavyweight title, Apollo believes it will be a simple walk over and a publicity stunt but Rocky has different plans, and along with his manager, Mickey (Burgess Meredith), they set about making the most of this once in a life time opportunity.

Carl Weathers and Tony Burton in Rocky (1976)

"Rocky" has two main threads running through it, the main one being the opportunity for Rocky to have a shot at the Heavyweight boxing title, but the second thread is the relationship between Adrian and Rocky, which although a romantic thread is done with such realism that it blends perfectly into the movie.

Even though the premise to "Rocky" is somewhat unbelievable, the way the story works through to the finale is completely based in the real world. Straight from the opening scenes we get a picture of Rocky as a somewhat normal bloke, living in humble dwellings and basically living with the dream that one day he will make it as a professional boxer. Although some of the scenes leading up to the big fight are a little self indulgent, mainly due to the fact that it was penned by Sylvester Stallone, the emphasis is always on the story and in quite a surprising twist it does stray away from the typical "underdog done good" type of movie.

The romantic storyline works as a perfect partner to the main thread and gives the movie a greater depth than initially expected. Unlike many love stories, this one is based against reality and although not the most beautiful tale ever told, it allows you to see a different side to the character of Rocky.

With both these threads working perfectly in unison "Rocky" is very engrossing and the fact it is based in a real world you definitely feel like you are becoming in involved with the story as well as the characters.

The main character in the film is that of Rocky Balboa and is played by Sylvester Stallone and I have to say, this is probably his best performance to date. Although we get to see the tough side of his character as he pounds away in the gym and in the ring, we also get to see a much tender character as he attempts to romance Adrian. What is most noticeable about the character of Rocky is that although he comes across as someone who may not be the most intellectual of people he is not an idiot either. Opposite Stallone is Talia Shire as the timid and mousey Adrian. What I found very good about Shire's performance was her transformation from being a dowdy and timid shop worker to a slightly more assured woman, due to Rocky's love for her.

As the so called villain of the piece is Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed and to be honest he is not really a villain as although he is the opposition, his character is quite likeable. In a way we watch his character transform in the final scene from being one which is cocky and brash to a much more humble one as Rocky provides a greater match for him than expected. Also appearing are Burgess Meredith as Rocky's trainer and manager, Mickey and Burt Young as Rocky's friend Paulie, both of which are brilliantly played and add so much to the film.

"Rocky" is directed by John G. Avildsen who went on to use the same sort of storyline and direction in the Karate Kid series. What is most noticeable about his direction is that he has strayed away from concentrating on the boxing side of the film and successfully attempted to give a much fuller picture of Rocky the man and his life. Where we do get to watch the training and boxing scenes we get a much more realistic picture than some films which are filled with over artsy, staged shots. This is not to say that "Rocky" hasn't got any of these and some of them are quite cheesy but in general these are few and far between and don't ruin what is a very good film.

What this all boils down to is that even though "Rocky" is now in its 30s, I still love this film to pieces and is still the best of the entire series of Rocky films. Most of this is down to the fact that, other than the initial unbelievable premise, the movie stays pretty true to reality and you cannot help but get involved with the story. Although I am not the biggest fan of Stallone this is in my opinion, definitely his best outing to date. Probably one of the main reasons why this film is so enjoyable is that it is uplifting, preaching the word that even an underdog has a chance.

Tags: Boxing Movies