Even after the baton has passed and a new hero has claimed our loyalty, the legendary and only legend of Rocky continues.
More than four decades ago, "Rocky" appeared, apparently from nowhere, to present Sylvester Stallone (who also wrote the script) relatively unknown as the Philadelphia club fighter Rocky Balboa (also known as The Italian Stallion), a palooka mistreated but proud. inspired by timid boyfriend Adrian Pennino (Talia Shire), his drunken brother Paulie (Burt Young) and coach / trainer Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith) to take his best shot in an unlikely showdown with heavyweight champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). This week, Rocky returns as a support mentor to new champion Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) in "Creed II," the latest entry in what is now an eight-movie franchise. Here are all the movies in the franchise ranked from worst to best.
Rocky II (1979)
The first sequel to the franchise firmly establishes the formula for each follow-up that has a Roman numeral: start with the last minutes of the previous film, enter the fatality and / or the financial backwardness as motivation, allow Adrián ample screen time to the voice (or scream) his disapproval of Rocky's risky decisions and his ending, in stark contrast to the original "Rocky", with an incontestable and hard-won victory for The Italian Stallion. Unfortunately, while adhering too much to his own plan for an audience that pleases the crowd, Stallone (assuming the job of Oscar-winning director John G. Avildsen) offers little more than a stained charcoal from his immediate predecessor. Still, it's fun to notice how often the elements of this chapter are repeated in later episodes, including "Creed" (which makes Rocky use a chicken to train Creed, just as Mickey uses birds to train him here) and "Creed II". Does Rocky remember his proposal to Adrian in "Rocky II" while advising Creed to ask Bianca the question? Absolutely.
Rocky V (1990)
Even some of the most fervent fans of the franchise, including Sylvester Stallone himself, have ruled out the fourth sequel as a hoarding of funds too far. Still, "Rocky V" deserves at least a handful of points for being the first film in the initial quintet to abandon the claim that, in the real world, Rocky's blood-spattered bouts would not have been terminated by referees after Oh, I do not know, round 3. So, how does this film provide the inevitable catharsis of Rocky Triumphant Smackdown? Well, in this sporadically exciting episode: the first to introduce Rocky to the fans, while he bathes after his violent "Rocky IV" powder with Ivan Drago – The Italian stallion and his family return to their neighborhood roots in Philadelphia after declaring bankruptcy (so Paulie, of course, deserves at least a partial credit, and ends up training a naive engineer (Tommy Morrison) who (a) betrays Rocky (b) wins the heavyweight title (c) yet can not leave Rocky's long shadow and (d) challenges his former mentor to a fight outside of our hero's favorite bar, all of which leads to a prolonged street fight that, for all its melodramatic excess, it could be said to be the most realistic fight in the canon "Rocky." (Also in favor of the fourth sequel: writer and director Stallone organizes a welcome return of Mickey Goldmill from Burgess Meredith, although the character joined The Choir Inv isible in "Rocky III".
Rocky III (1982)
Will success spoil Rocky Balboa? Apparently, like this: after claiming the heavyweight title in "Rocky II," Rocky evolves (or, perhaps more accurately, becomes) an elegant and elegant superstar who, paraphrasing a letter of the Oscar-nominated theme song "Eye of the Tiger," He changes his passion for glory, but all that is needed is a serious defeat of the hungry stalker of Clubber Lang (the fiercely stupid Mr. T) for The Italian Stallion to accept the accuracy of the evaluation. from coach Mickey Goldmill: "You've become civilized." In a bit of a downside at the time, the cliché of white saviors helping trampled colored people, the former black enemy Apollo Creed steps in to prepare Rocky for a rematch leading to our hero to a gym for back-to-basics training – panting! – A crowd of African-Americans Paulie is doubtful: "You can not train him as a fighter of color, he has no rhythm!", Per or the writer and director Stallone wisely minimizes the barely concealed racism of the character. Fun fact: although boxer-turned-actor Tony Burton appeared in two previous "Rocky" films as the Apollo trailer, and featured in the first movie the big line, "He does not know what a damn show is! that's a damn reason! "- his character was not identified in the credits by his name, Duke, until this.
Rocky IV (1985)
Near the end of the Cold War, writer-director Stallone warmed things up by initially offering an exhibition fight between the great American fighter Apollo Creed and the seemingly superhuman boxer from the USSR Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), and then, after Drago , more or less kills Creed. in the ring, providing a spat between Rocky and Big Bad Russkie. "Rocky IV" is the first movie of the franchise to completely break all ties to reality. Even by the standards of the "Rocky" franchise, the climate clash between Rocky and Drago is incredibly exaggerated, with the bloody kind normally expected in movies. about the ghosts armed with chainsaws, but their uncontrolled excess and their shamelessness are the keys to their lasting appeal. But wait, there's more: James Brown demolishes the house with a performance prior to the "Live in the United States" fight that could serve as Test A while demonstrating that the song is our new national anthem.
Credo II (2018)
For many fans of the franchise, this nominal "Creed" sequel to 2015 may seem more like a late "Rocky IV" resolution of 1985, as Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan, once again perfect), the heavyweight champion son of Apollo Creed, he faces the brutal Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), son of the Russian fighter who literally killed his father. Stallone repeats his portrayal of old Rocky Balboa as a battle-scarred sage in Creed's young corner, Tessa Thompson once again turns the beloved Bianca of Adonis into a more important character than Talia Shire could ever be interpreted as Adrian, and the film itself provides a satisfying closing for each character (yes, even for Viktor and Ivan Drago) that there seems to be no compelling reason for Stallone (who co-wrote this) and the company to produce another sequel. Of course, that has not stopped you before, right?
Rocky Balboa (2006)
During a considerable period of its execution time, "Rocky Balboa" serves as the "Archie Bunker's Place" franchise, with retired Rocky operating a popular restaurant in Philadelphia, occasionally interacting with old acquaintances, among they a street child turned into a single mother Marie (Geraldine Hughes) and the fighter of the club Spider Rico (Pedro Lovell), two characters from the first movie of "Rocky", and who faithfully visit the tomb of his late wife Adrian, whose death from cancer is remembered in the "Creed" of 2015. (Paulie, of Burt Young, is still around, though barely, still drinking so much that the news of his death in "Creed" is not really a surprise.) And, to tell the truth, such an unconventional appendix to the original quintet could have been entertained by their own merits. But, of course, since this is a "Rocky" movie, we finally end up in the ring: after a simulated computer matchup, Rocky could have defeated current heavyweight champion Mason "The Line" Dixon (Antonio Tarver), the youngest boxer challenges the living legend to a real life combat. However, as in the first film of the franchise, the ineffably melancholic and surprisingly affecting "Rocky Balboa" is not based on a dislike against all odds for an emotionally satisfying conclusion. Once again, Rocky recognizes, and fully appreciates, what achievement it can be to simply walk the distance.
Sylvester Stallone wrote the first six "Rocky" films, directed four of them and played the title character in all of them, over a period of three decades. It is difficult to think of a similarly consistent support of actor, character and creator in the entire history of cinema: the collaboration of Francois Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Leaud for the cycle of Antoine Doinel, perhaps? – which makes what director / co-screenwriter Ryan Coogler and lead player Michael B. Jordan achieve in "Creed" even more remarkable. The film works extraordinarily well as a perfect continuation of an ongoing narrative and a surprising introduction to a new saga, with old Rocky Balboa of Stallone – at first grudgingly, then enthusiastically – passing the baton to a new contender, Adonis Creed (Jordan), the son of his late rival and friend Apollo Creed. Make no mistake, this is the story of the youngest boxer and Jordan's movie. But Stallone (who earned a deserved Oscar nomination for his performance here) is an invaluable support player, portraying Rocky as a street gray eminence who gives Adonis what, decades earlier, Mickey Goldmill gave him: Million Shot to one.
Forget the scams and add-ons, and yes, some of the minor sequels that inspired. And it does not matter that his plot of losses against odds was a fight, even when the movie premiered in 1976. "Rocky" represents an almost miraculous confluence of actor and role, emotion and manipulation, entertainment and zeitgeist. In a post-Watergate era of cynicism and disillusionment, Stallone and director John G. Avildsen found a way to cheer and excite the audience by offering a fantasy of well-being with the believable appearance of a kitchen drama, the kitchen sink . And yet, despite the fact that "Rocky" is a product of its time, it remains timeless in its appeal. Not unlike "Casablanca," which also won an Oscar win for Best Picture, inspires admiration that borders on fanaticism: anyone who has embraced it can cite memorable dialogues or describe a favorite moment. (Take note of the beautifully performed scene in which Mickey Goldmill, the deranged Burgess Meredith, practically begs to be Rocky's manager). A serious thought: if it appeared today instead of yesterday, "Rocky" would be considered an independent production (a small budget effort with script and protagonist of an actor of almost unknown character) and probably would premiere at Sundance or SXSW. But could it, could it, get something like the same impact?