When he loses a highly publicized virtual boxing match to ex-champ Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), reigning heavyweight titleholder Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver) retaliates by challenging the Italian Stallion to a nation... more »ally televised, 10-round exhibition bout. To the surprise of his son (Milo Ventimiglia) and friends, Rocky agrees to come out of retirement and face an opponent who's faster, stronger and thirty years his junior. With the odds stacked firmly against him, Rocky takes on Dixon in what will become the greatest fight in boxing history, a hard-hitting, action-packed battle of the ages.« less
"When it was revealed that there was going to be a Rocky VI, many naysayers groaned and complained that enough was enough and that Sly was too over the hill and couldn't pull it off. But the TRUE FANS out there knew differently. Even the critics, who initially made skeptical/negative comments about the sixth installment, started turning their stories around after viewing the film in its entirety. Rocky Balboa is a real winner of a movie, that fully realizes the essence of the original classic and brings the saga full circle to a thrilling, emotional, and very memorable conclusion.
Many years have gone by since last we saw Rocky, who is now a widower, estranged from his son and still mourning the loss of his beloved wife, Adrian. There are some truly touching moments of Rocky at the cemetery, sitting by her grave (when I saw the film in theaters, no one in the audience made a sound - even the rowdy ones - during these scenes, out of pure respect for the characters) as well as Rocky's journey, with Paulie, to all the places he took Adrian on their classic first date. So touching.
Now Rocky has his own restaurant, where he greets his customers and regales them with past stories of glory. But deep inside of him is a rage that he must get out of himself and conquer in order to move on with his life. The only way to do that is to go back in the ring. But when a computer simulated match between Rocky and the current reigning heavyweight champion of the world, Mason Dixon, is shown on TV, showing Rocky as the victor, word spreads like wildfire for the real thing.
No Rocky film is complete without a training montage, and this film's got it in spades. Stallone has the character of Rocky so integrated within himself, and gives nothing short of one of his finest performances on screen. Many memorable scenes, including Rocky's long and emotional talk with his son, as well as his new relationship with Marie (the young woman Rocky walked home back in the first installment) make for truly compelling drama. And the climactic fight at the finale is the icing on the cake. It's inspirational and never disappoints for a second.
Rocky Balboa belongs in the collection of every fan (and non-fan alike for that matter) and the DVD is loaded with wonderful bonus features, including Audio Commentary with Stallone, Deleted Scenes, Featurettes, Alternate Ending, and more. Pick this film up and watch it again and again. You'll be happy you did.
Rocky Balboa - a fitting end to the Rocky Saga!
"But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward." - Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa"
The Underdog Returns
Kevin T. Rodriguez | Citrus Heights, CA United States | 01/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Everyone's favorite underdog is back in the game, as Sylvester Stallone brings back the character that made him a household name in the first place, with the sixth entry is the popular Rocky series "Rocky Balboa" (apparently, Roman numerals are no long in). Going into "Rocky Balboa" is like walking into a bad teenage comedy, as you go in with low expectations and more then a little cynicism. Yeah, sure, the original "Rocky" was critically acclaimed and won the Academy Award for Best Picture, but that was in 1976. This is 2006. That's about...a thirty year gap between the original movie and the current one. And Stallone is now sixty. Can he really pull off acting young anymore? The answer is no, so Stallone doesn't even try. Instead of pretending he's still 22, Stallone has Rocky retired at the age of 62, who is running a successful restaurant but has a strained relationship with his son ever since his wife died of causes that are not revealed in the film.
Then one of those computer simulators sets up a virtual fight with Rocky fighting the current heavy weight champion of the world Mason "The Line" Dixon. The computer deems Rocky would win in a fight, which gets Rocky into wondering what it would be like to get back into fighting. Rocky doesn't consider getting back in the ring for glory or fame, but more for the fact that he's somewhat stuck in time and wants the past back. Rocky constantly visits places he and Adrian used to visit, much to his brother-in-law's frustration. "You're problem is that you're living in the past. But I can't do that anymore," Pauli tells Rocky on the anniversary of Adrians death. For once, Pauli actually comes off as the wise one. Everything in Rocky's life is about the past. Rocky may own a restaurant (named Adrians appropriately enough), but Rocky doesn't actually manage the business or cook the food, he just dresses up in a nice suit and tells the costumers stories of his boxing career, taking a photo once in awhile.
His son loves his dad, but is frustrated that he passes through life based on the fact that he is the son of a former heavy weight champion. Even Rocky's friend Marie, the girl he walked home near the beginning of the first movie, is helped by Rocky mainly because Rocky can see the results of something good he did in the past. When the opportunity to fight Mason comes to Rocky's table, he accepts the fight because he wants to put the past behind him. In a phrase that will most likely become one of the most popular lines of dialog in history, Rocky tells his son "Life's not about how many punches you can throw at it, it's about how many times you can get hit and continue to punch back." When we finally get to the big fight, Rocky is once again an underdog. No longer young, looking a little frail, but with just enough determination that you can't help but hope he wins.
Yet the road will not be easy. "Rocky Balboa" delivers everything you expect a Rocky movie to have, from inspirational speeches, to a training montage, to spouts with minor characters. All of this we expect, yet it feels fresh and interesting. The characters have something to say to each other, and the storyline is very human and personal. I was amazed by how involved I got with these characters, considering that I haven't really spent any time with them in years, and all of them look completely different then when I last saw them. When Rocky first ran up those stairs and lifted his fists in the air, he was saying something to the world. Now he's saying something else, and it's just as inspiring as the last thing he had to say. By bringing Rocky down to our level, and dealing with the issue's we've all been joking about, Rocky becomes the underdog once again, and we're only happy to root for him some more. "Rocky Balboa" is one of the best films of the year.
Rating: **** and a half stars"
A Fitting Wrap to the Rocky Series
James Koenig | Minnesota | 12/28/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you liked the original "Rocky", you will really like this movie, as it is more about the character Rocky, his feelings, his life, and his future. Rocky 3, 4, and 5 are missing the vital heart and soul we loved in Rocky 1 and 2 so much - we fell in love with the Rocky character, his humanness, his gentleness (despite his hulking size and profession), his love of Adrian, Mick, and Paulie. In "Rocky Balboa", Sylvester Stallone has captured the essence of Rocky once again. The film will move you as it did me. I laughed out loud, I was inspired, I cheered, and I cried.
Rocky V was supposed to the last Rocky film, but the film was disappointing in that it had no real conclusion of the character of Rocky. Stallone was disappointed with it, and for years pestered the studios to allow him one more installment. With "Rocky Balboa, Stallone once again causes us to fall in love with Rocky, and he ends the film with a just and satisfying conclusion. I guarantee you will like this film if you liked the original "Rocky."
This final installment of the Rocky series, "Rocky Balboa", has much of the flavor of the original Rocky (1976) release. The emphasis is not on the fight, rather, it is on the character of Rocky, and how he is struggling to maintain himself after the unexpected and premature death of his beloved Adrian. Adrian has died and Rocky's life stopped when she died. He is stuck in the past, with no clear vision of his future without her at his side. Each morning, Rocky begins his day by sitting beside Adrian's grave in a wooden chair he stores in the crook of a nearby tree. He brings her fresh flowers and contemplates their past love together. He has a restaurant, called "Adrian's", where Rocky entertains his guests with stories of his past boxing glories. It so happens it is the 5-year anniversary of Adrian's death, and Rocky, as he has done each of the previous 5 years, goes back to the old neighborhood to relive his fond loving memories of Adrian, like the pet store, the skating rink, their apartment, and Mick's boxing gym. Rocky misses Adrian so much he cannot get over her. She is like a ghost who dominates his every waking moment.
Like the original "Rocky", this film devotes enjoyable time in developing the character of Rocky and his interactions with old and new characters. Th "old" characters are Paulie (Adrian's brother), Rocky's son (now a fledgling businessman, struggling to carve out a life outside his famous father's shadow), Spider Rico (a former opponent, and now Rocky's friend and confidant), and "Little Marie", (now a grown woman who works at the neighborhood bar) who Rocky walked home from a street corner in the original film (Marie was perhaps 12 years old then - she is pushing 40 years old in this film).
The new characters are Step, Marie's son, whom Rocky befriends like a father figure, and Mason "The Line" Dixon, the current heavyweight champion, who is stuck in his own life rut. Like art imitating real life, the heavyweight division is in the dumps with no real contenders for Dixon to fight. Dixon is booed by fans despite him easily winning his matches against all the pretender "contenders". The fans are in a state of unrest, because there is no boxer on the scene with the credentials to give Mason Dixon a real fight. And so, Dixon has doubts about himself. Is he really a champion when he has no viable competition? Does he have a fighter's heart? Can he go the distance with a real challenger? Can he get up and fight if he gets knocked down? It appears that Dixon will never find the answers to his questions until a computer fight with Rocky Balboa is generated. Much like the real-life computer fight between Rocky Marchiano and Muhummad Ali, the Dixon-Balboa fight ends with Rocky KO'ing the current champion. Dixon's manger and handlers use the computer fight to generate interest in a real fight with Rocky Balboa. Dixon needs the positive publicity the fight will bring him, and he needs to settle the issue of how he would do against a real champion like Balboa. At first, Dixon is incredulous that someone as old as Rocky could even step in the ring with him, as Rocky is in has mid to late fifties. The match is set as an exhibition, and Dixon tells Rocky he will carry him and not embarass him. Little does Dixon know, Rocky still feels he has something to prove, and he takes the fight seriously, giving Dixon the war he needs to prove his mettle.
Rocky accepts the challenge to fight despite the disapproval of his son and Paulie. They fear for the very life of Rocky. But Rocky eventually convinces them that he has to fight because he cannot go into eternity with a whisper. The Rock believes a man is always a man, and has the soul of a fighting man even when he ages. The fight for Rocky is a metaphor for the value of one's life at any age, and is also his personal battle to move forward in his own life. He was knocked down when Adrian died, and now this fight shows that he can pick himself off the mat and move forward once again.
The fight itself is anti-climactic to the character development of Rocky and where he goes after the fight. Thus, the fight with Mason Dixon has less drama than the previous Rocky opponents (such as Appolo, Drago, Clubber Lang, etc). Rocky always fought villianous characters in the previous films, but not in this one. (In fact, Clubber Lang and Ivan Drago from Rocky 3 and 4 were more comic book characters than real people). In "Rocky Balboa", Mason Dixon is not a villan. He is a real human being with human issues of his own to settle. Without revealing the ending, suffice to say that both fighters give it their all in the ring, and both achieve what they set out to do.
It is noteworthy to mention that Rocky does not even wait in the ring for the final decision, for he has exorcised his personal issues and settled them. In the final scene of the movie, Rocky revists Adrian's grave. The perceptive movie watcher will note that the chair is gone from the crook of the tree, indicating that Rocky has moved on with his life. Adrian will still be his beloved, but he can move on and not be stuck in the past. The Little Marie character, now a grown woman with a nearly grown son, helps Rocky realize he has more to live for than past memories. Their budding relationship gives the viewer assurance that new love can again blossom for Rocky, and fill the void he felt for Adrian.
For me "Rocky Balboa" is a very pleasing and satsifying, and I give it 4 of 5 stars. I dock it a star because I think it could have been a bit longer. The film only runs 1 hour and 42 minutes, relatively short by today's film standards. I would like to see further development of Rocky's trainer and their relationship, (the younger viewers will not know who the trainer is, or where he comes from. He is Apollo Creed's former trainer, and the man who helped Rocky train for Ivan Drago). I fondly recall Rocky and Mick's relationship in the first three Rocky movies, and I wish there was more dialogue between these two men to reveal their feelings for each other. Afterall, would a trainer seriously accept the task of preparing a 50-something old Rocky to fight the heavyweight champion? This premise could have been developed more. I also would have liked to see more development on Rocky's training. The training period is too brief in this film, and was always an emotional inspiration in previous films. It is hard to imagine a man in his fifties stepping into the ring with the champ. Rocky is incredibly ripped in his musculature, but I would have liked to see the same sequence that was done in the first film, showing how out of shape Rocky was, and what he had to go through to get into shape. This in my estimation is the most serious flaw in the film.
If you can accept the preposition of a man in his mid to late 50's fighting the current heavyweight boxing champion (a la George Foreman winning the title at age 45 and fighting until he was nearly fifty years old), then you will love this film. This to me is the only stumbling block in the film. If one can accept the age issue, and finds it credible that Rocky can really put up a fight, then the film works. If you can't accept that preposition, the film can still be enjoyed for the development of the Rocky character, and the hope he has in his future with his son, and Marie as a potential future love interest.
"Rocky Balboa" provides a fitting ending to the Rocky saga. It is a must-see for all the Rocky fans who have lived the saga for the past 30 years. Personally, and perhaps like many others, I have been deeply affected by Rocky in my life, as I can empathize with his struggles in life, and his struggle to make his life count for something - not content to be "just another bum from the neighborhood". "Rocky Balboa" shows with grace and dignity that all of us have these same issues, and the movie fittingly ends with Rocky's issues satisfactorily resolved. It was a great ride. Thank you Sylvester Stallone for revealing to us the person of Rocky. I like the guy, in fact I love him. My life is richer for it.
Jim "Konedog" Koenig.
The Right Bookend
Brian Kaufman | Laporte, Colorado USA | 03/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rocky V was awful. I'm so glad Stallone wasn't satisfied with how he ended things. The new movie is the right bookend -- Stallone revisits the series' roots and finds the right tone.
Let me reveal my bias -- I loved the first movie. I watched it in theaters more than a dozen times. So let's not waste time with a real review. Let's talk nostalgia. "Rocky Balboa" ties back into every original subtext. Stallone reinforces his vision by recasting bit players like Pedro Lovell as Spider Rico (a great cameo).
The theme hasn't changed. Keep moving forward; don't quit. This time, Rocky is older and wiser. I loved the subtext of a wiser Rocky. I believed.
This is an emotionally satisfying movie. If you've followed the series, you've seen the ups and downs. This is the right way to end the series. Anything less would have been unfair to an original and compelling character."
The Last Thing To Age Is The Heart
Barry | 03/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After 16 years, Sylvester Stallone has accomplished what many figured would never happen. He came back with a new Rocky movie, and he came back with a really GOOD Rocky movie. Not only does Rocky still have punches in him, but so does Stallone. As a fan of the series, I can safely say that this is the best entry since the original. Quickly, the plot sees Rock running his own restaraunt, Adrian's, named after his deceased wife(Talia Shire is missed, but it works, and Shire herself says she trusts and believes in Sly with this twist in the story), and he doesn't have a strong relationship with his son(Milo Ventamiglia). A virtual reality boxing match on TV pitting him against Mason "The Line" Dixon(Antonio Carver)has Rocky defeating him, and setting up a real life match with Rocky coming out of retirement for one last match. It's an interesting premise, really, and it works. Some may think it takes too long to get going or to get to the action, but that's why it works. It's not just about action and boxing, but about the people and the character of Rocky. That's why I like it. I am just as interested, if not more, in the non-boxing aspects of the movie. The best thing about the Rocky films is that each one finds the Italian Stallion in a new part of his life and takes it from there. He's older now, and the film doesn't overlook it just for Rocky and Sly to have another shot at glory. It's about age. It's a big part of the film. That's one of the great things about the film. They are not overlooking reality and age just to make another film. I hear the same thing is being done for Indy 4. The flashback scenes are scarce(although others say otherwise), and the "tour" of the old haunts is nostalgic, affective, and well placed. This film feels like a Rocky film, and has a sense of the original film. Little Marie(Geraldine Hughes) is back, as well as Spider, and this leads to the film's closer touch to the classic original. Burt Young's Paulie is still Paulie, and it would seem out of place to have a Rocky movie without him. The movie is surprisingly real, emotional, and heartfelt. You can't help but get caught up in the situation and cheer Rock on one last time. The end match is great, and feels like the real deal. It's exceptionally planned out and set up, and makes the tension feel real as you watch it. Bill Conti's theme is back, and it still raises goosebumps when it starts up. Sly isn't the greatest actor, but he is Rocky, and he knows Rocky, and he is really good in the film, as well as behind the camera as a director. Rocky V had it's moments, but it was not the film to end on. This one is. It fits wonderfully, and it wraps it up perfectly. To see the love and respect Rocky gets from people, especially in the end, is heartwarming. It doesn't fail to bring a lump to your throat. To matter how old you get, or where your life takes you, Rocky Balboa tells you to never give up. Thanks for coming back with Rocky one more time Sly. You made a truly wonderful film for this iconic character and series to go out on."