Belated Sequels: Rocky Balboa (2006)
This week on Belated Sequels (the super long weekly post that you all love to read) we’re looking at yet another sequel that in my opinion was not only a great follow up but an excellent bookend to the saga:
Rocky Balboa (2006)
Previous Instalments: Rocky (1976), Rocky II (1979) Rocky III (1982), Rocky IV (1985) and Rocky V (1990).
Time since last instalment: 16 years.
Honestly, who doesn’t like the Rocky movies?!
Whether you’re a boxing fan or not (I’m not personally) these films are just brilliant! Sure there’s a tonne of nostalgia attached to them for me because we used to watch them a lot in my house growing up, but nostalgia aside they’re just thoroughly enjoyable and extremely easy to watch!
Granted the boxing itself isn’t particularly realistic (which is something I’ve heard boxing fans say) but if it was, these movies wouldn’t be half as good (I’ve seen the odd boxing match and they seem to spend more time hugging each other than throwing punches).
The realism of the boxing aside, these films are about so much more than two men punching each other in the ring...
They’re about struggle, overcoming adversity, personal growth, love, loss and friendship, and each instalment has more heart than any other film I’ve seen.
The fifth one for me was a disappointment and remains my least favourite of all the movies. That said, it’s still a bit of a guilty pleasure and I always seem to put it on when I see it showing on TV.
Apparently it failed as a result of studio meddling and the darker, less hopeful tone that made the previous four films so popular with fans.
In actual fact, in Stallone’s original script, Rocky died at the end of the movie, writing off any hope of any sequel let alone a belated one. A couple of weeks into shooting however the studio decided they didn’t want to send one of their biggest cash cows to the abattoir just yet and demanded the ending be changed.
Personally I’m glad they didn’t kill Rocky off because the sequel that followed is one of my favourites of the saga.
In Rocky Balboa we see a much older Rocky who’s retired from boxing and is now running his own successful Italian restaurant in Philadelphia.
Adrien has died (two years prior) and he has a strained relationship with his son who resents him for the huge shadow he can’t seem to get out from under.
After a computer simulated fight between Rocky (in his prime) and the new but unpopular heavyweight champion is aired on ESPN and Rocky wins, he gets the opportunity to fight the young boxer for real in an exhibition match.
Struggling with life and the grief of losing Adrien, Rocky sees the fight as a chance to get rid of the “stuff in the basement” and also prove something to himself.
This movie, despite what some people say is brilliant!
It’s a real return to the storytelling approach that made the first two films so good. As the movies went on they became more commercial and stylised (not that that’s a bad thing), but this one feels slightly grittier with more of an emphasis on re-exploring the characters and telling a decent story than on the training montages and the soundtrack.
The film also takes Rocky’s age into account which is pretty important considering he’s no spring chicken in this one.
One of my favourite scenes is where he sits down with his trainer, Duke (Tony Burton) before beginning his training and Duke lists all of the things that aren’t possible due to his advancing years and ailments. I really liked that this was highlighted and it adds a little authenticity to the whole story.
If you’ve seen this film you’ll know it has the famous scene in which Rocky has it out with his son in the street and tells him, “it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”
The scene is arguably the best in the movie and is not only a turning point in Rocky’s relationship with his son, but it’s since been used in countless motivational videos circulating the internet.
I think one of the biggest things that makes the Rocky films so enduring is the character himself. He’s the underdog and a genuinely nice guy who remembers where he came from. It’s extremely easy to root for a character like that because you care for him and you want him to succeed.
I don’t mind the Creed movies but I think they lack the heart that the Rocky films have. The title character also isn’t nearly as likeable so you don’t tend to get behind him as much as you do Rocky.
I read recently that Sylvester Stallone has hinted that he might make another Rocky movie that will end the saga. Personally I think Rocky Balboa is a great end to the story and as much as I like these films I hope he doesn’t do it.
This is one belated sequel that, for me was definitely worth the wait.
Seen it? Let me know what you think.👇