The one in a million shot for the Italian Stallion…
Written By: Andrew Lowe
Date: 1st August, 2015
Rocky is about a down on his luck club fighter given the chance of a lifetime to face the world heavyweight champion. Imagine a story of the American dream but in the boxing world, and this pretty much sums up the film.
The film starts with Rocky fighting a brutal match against Spider Rico in a club. Rocky wins after he is cut after Spider head butts him. After which we see Rocky’s life working as a debt collector for a local mobster. Basically we see Rocky not happy with his situation in life at the age of thirty.
Mickey, who runs the local gym, berates him all the time as Mickey feels Rocky has wasted any chance he ever had, and is a bum. This leads to Mickey dumping Rocky out of his locker.
Across the road from Mickey’s gym is a pet store where Adrian works. Adrian is the sister of Paulie, one of Rocky’s friends who he drinks with. Adrian is very shy, and although likes Rocky, tries to hide away from him. Rocky however keeps trying, even to the point of coming up with terrible jokes.
Apollo Creed, the world heavyweight champion, is trying to find another contender after his original opponent has broken their hand. After looking through all the ranked contenders and finding they are not available, Apollo comes up with the idea of having a local underdog fight him for the championship.
Adrian, after some insensitive convincing from Paulie, goes out with Rocky. Eventually Rocky manages to connect with her and their romance starts to blossom, even though Adrian is still very reserved and shy.
Rocky is approached to fight Apollo for the world heavyweight championship. At first Rocky rejects the offer saying that he is not in the same league as the champion, but is convinced to take it. All of the media treat him as a joke though, as no one even considers him to have a chance.
Mickey comes to visit Rocky at his apartment to offer his help as a manager and trainer. This leads to a heated argument between the two, however Rocky soon sees sense and agrees to have Mickey’s help.
As Rocky continues to train, his relationship with Adrian grows and they fall deeper in love, giving Adrian more and more confidence. Paulie however gets more and more jealous overtime with Rocky’s success. Paulie, drunk, tries to throw Rocky out at Christmas time. To which Adrian leaves and moves in with Rocky. Paulie comes to see Rocky apologising, and asking to make money advertising using Rocky’s name, to which he agrees.
The night before the fight, Rocky goes to the Philadelphia Spectrum and looks around seeing everything ready for the match. He notices that the colours of his trunks are wrong on one of the pictures. The promoter of the fight is also there, when Rocky tells him that the picture is wrong, the promoter says it doesn’t really matter. Rocky realises that no one thinks he has a chance, and starts to doubt himself. After talking with Adrian, Rocky realises that all he wants is to go the distance with Apollo as no one has ever done that.
On the night of the fight, Adrian is with Rocky, as he gets ready for the fight. He tells Adrian to stay in the dressing room till he gets back, thinking that the fight will not be very long.
Rocky makes his way to ring and is nervous about the fight. Apollo comes out dressed as George Washington and is very much the showman and plays heavily to the crowd.
As the fight begins, Apollo is dancing around. Rocky catches him with a powerful punch and knocks him down. This is the first time anyone has knocked Apollo down in his career. Apollo starts taking the fight seriously, and both fighters go toll to toll, even to the point that Rocky’s nose is broken for the first time in his career.
It all goes down to the end of the fourteen round, of which both fighters are exhausted and badly beaten. Rocky has been knocked down by Apollo, and just beats the count. Rocky start waving to Apollo telling to come forward, which he does. As Apollo takes a swing, Rocky ducks and takes several shots at Apollo’s ribs, badly hurting him, so much that referee checks on him at the end of the round.
As they start the fifteen round they go toll to toll with each other again, exhausted but taking as many shots at each as they can. Adrian comes to ringside wanting to be at Rocky’s side. As Rocky started to get the advantage and was repeatedly hitting Apollo on ropes looking as though he will be knocked down any moment, the bell rings. Apollo yells there ain’t going to be a rematch to which Rocky replies that he doesn’t want one.
The ring fills up with media, and the judges’ decision is announced. Apollo wins by a spilt decision. Rocky ignoring the media, keeps yelling for Adrian. She makes her way into the ring, sneaking past security with Paulie’s help. Rocky and Adrian say they love each other and embrace.
The story is simple but incredibly powerful. The characters are perfectly drawn. Rocky Balboa is the natural underdog that is so likable and good-natured that you can’t help but cheer him on. Sylvester Stallone’s writing is perfectly toned. The scenes and dialogue all work so well in telling a truly compelling story, although it is not that original.
The acting is also superb; Sylvester Stallone has the performance of his career, which could be why he just can’t let the character go forty years on. He perfectly portrays Rocky as a good-natured club fighter that shows so much heart. Even in the scenes where Rocky does not believe in himself you can feel the emotion of the scene. I haven’t seen Sly do this in any other role he has done.
Talia Shire is perfect as Adrian. She truly makes me believe the character is downtrodden and shy. But slowly opens up thanks to Rocky’s kindness. Adrian’s character slowly gains more and more confidence. Talia makes this so believable, and it truly a magnificent performance, showing how her character grows throughout the film.
It’s these two characters that make the film. Without excellent performances from these two actors, the film would have been terrible. They both truly make the film along with the excellent writing.
The supporting cast is also truly excellent. Burt Young as Paulie gives a fine performance, and makes everything very believable in how he becomes jealous of Rocky. Burgess Meredith gives a very memorable performance as Mickey, of which this character has been mimicked and parodied to death. Carl Weathers is also perfect as Apollo although barely has any time in this film. Thankfully all of these characters are expanded upon in the many sequels.
So has Rocky stood the test of time, as next year it will be forty years old? In my opinion it has, but I have to say that I’m incredibly biased when it comes to Rocky. I grew up watching all of these films. So there is very much a nostalgia feeling every time I watch them.
All in all anyone who doesn’t like boxing films, might as well give Rocky a miss. For me it is a film I hold dear to me, so much so that I found the beginning of Rocky Balboa, the sixth film, very touching as I grew up with the relationship of Rocky & Adrian. This is a testament of how good these characters and their story really was.