Rocky Balboa, created by Sylvester Stallone, is a poor Philadelphia boxer who gains fame after fighting heavyweight champion Apollo Creed. The film spawned five sequels, with Rocky facing personal tragedies and new opponents. The latest film, Rocky Balboa, sees Rocky return to boxing to fight a young boxer and find personal closure.
Rocky Balboa is the iconic character featured in a series of films based on a boxer named Rocky Balboa. The character was a creation of actor Sylvester Stallone, who wrote the original script for the movie Rocky in the 1970s. Although the producers were initially interested in Stallone’s script, not many were interested in making the film with Stallone in the lead role.
In the first film, Rocky is a poor boy who makes deliveries for a crime boss, but he really loves boxing. He is a Philadelphia native with a heavily accented voice and is not particularly intelligent. He has a slight crush on a pet store employee, Adrian, played by Talia Shire. She is clearly shy but intelligent. Yet he is verbally abused by his brother Paulie, played by Burt Young.
We also take a look at the life of the current heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed, fondly modeled after Muhammad Ali. In an attempt to boost Rocky’s career, Creed offers Rocky an opportunity as an unknown to fight him in the ring.
Initially, Rocky has a hard time training under the voice of Mickey Goldmill, played by Burgess Meredith. Mickey is certain that Rocky will lose because he’s too slow and isn’t really putting effort into training him. However, as Rocky gains more confidence, he begins to physically work together as a fantastic athlete. This is represented by a montage of his workout scenes, culminating in his run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, to the very inspiring lead song of Bill Conti’s film soundtrack.
The actual combat with Apollo comes as a surprise. The match between Creed and Rocky is a bloody one that ends in a split decision rather than a straight win. But Rocky has clearly won in many ways, pulling himself up from obscurity and crime, romancing Adrian, and proving himself to be a superior puncher.
Some film critics at this point heave a deep sigh and exclaim: “If only they had left it!” However, Rocky was made in a sequel period and the film spawned five sequels. Rocky II rebuts Rocky and Apollo, and Adrian and Rocky get married.
Rocky III pairs Rocky with Clubber Lang, effectively played by Mr. T. However, the formula in the movies had started to emerge. Rocky faces the personal tragedy of losing his trainer Mickey after a bad loss to Lang. Creed becomes his trainer. In the second film, Adrian nearly dies while giving birth to Rocky’s first child. These personal tragedies act as a match and Rocky emerges triumphant from his second battle with Creed and with Clubber.
In Rocky IV Creed he is killed in a match with a Russian boxer, Ivan Drago. Rocky sets out to avenge Creed by fighting Drago, even though he is now too old to box, and he risks his life by doing so. The film, although by then grossing the most of all films in the series, was panned by critics and awarded several Razzies for poor acting.
Rocky V picks up after Rocky returns from Russia and fights Drago. Instead of boxing himself, he finds a young boxer to train, who wins the heavyweight title. However, the young boxer, played by Tommy Morrison, is ungrateful for the veteran’s help. The film ends with a victorious street fight with Tommy. It’s an unwelcoming film and has left many feeling like they’ve seen enough of Rocky’s life.
However, Stallone redeems the character in the latest film in the franchise, Rocky Balboa. The film has by far received the most favorable critical reviews since the original. The boxer lost Adrian to cancer and is struggling to relate to his son, played by Heroes alum Milo Ventimiglia. He returns to boxing to fight a young boxer. In homage to the first film, the match ends in a split decision. The last scenes show him at his wife’s grave, with the famous line “Yo, Adrian”.
Though the movie ends in a split decision match, Rocky has clearly triumphed personally. He has made peace with his son, has started a new relationship with a woman and can leave the world of boxing feeling satisfied. The movie has clearly left a lot of fans with a sense of closure about the main character as well.