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Rocky Balboa finally retires
In this climatic chapter of the "Rocky" saga, "Rocky V" brings the series full circle as some fans would put it. Having suffered massive brain damage from the last fight, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) is forced to retire while a accountant manages to steal all his families life savings, during his bout in Russia. Wow, it seems Murphy's Law really messes Rocky over as things continue to get worse for the retired champion as he's forced to move back to his old neighborhood in Philadelphia. His kid, Rocky Jr. aka Robert (Sage Stallone) is forced to get used to a less previledge lifestyle as he deals with bullies and jealousy of his father's new surrogate son and protege, Tommy "the machine" Gunn (Tommy Morrison). A protege whom even turns on him for his own agenda. It seems as like all great fighters they always seem to quit too late once they past their primes, and the "Rocky " series is no exception. I know many will argue that this brings the entire series full circle. However, the reality is that each "Rocky" film has steadily declined through each passing sequel. Becoming a shadow of what made the original a classic. Don't get me wrong though, I'll admit like all Rocky fans, I've always had a soft spot for this series. Even though sure each sequel basically carried the same theme of a underdog that fights against his inner doubts to take on a impenetrable opponent, you can't help but root for these characters.
The story I'll admit is a tad weak at times often border line cheesy. Ranging from the Don King wannabe played by Nicky Blair to the poorly choreographed fight scene where a priest of all people is standing there rooting for Rocky, (warning spoiler alert in the rest of this paragraph) in a street fight no less. Sheesh, one would think he'd be the one trying to stop the fight, but not in this Hollywood cliched ending. Plus, lets not also forget how convenient it was when Don King clone promoter was tempting Rocky to step into the ring with his former protege, and Adrian would come out of the pet shop across to rush to Rocky's aide at that exact time. Can we possibly make this more cliched? However, that's not to say the story was entirely weak and didn't have some redeeming points.
I thought the storyline had a good premise and how it displayed Rocky's struggle trying to accept that everything he ever worked for is gone. Trying to provide for his family, and his inner doubts after he loses everything while dealing with his relationship with his son as it becomes more strained due to Rocky's relationship with Tommy Gunn. Indeed, the scenes where it shows Rocky struggling with his past and trying to move on with his life make the movie worth while. (warning spoiler alert in the rest of this paragraph) In fact, I almost choked up at the symbolic ending where it shows Rocky and his son walking past his old statue as he tells his son how he never once went inside the library, since he's been jogging up those stairs to train all those years. Seeing them walk past that statue together was very symbolic and powerful as it shows how Rocky has finally learned to move on with his life.
Even the song "The Measure of a Man" seems to be appropriate as it summarizes Rocky's entire journey to this point.
Tommy Gunn sadly wasn't much of a villain though as unlike past villains that seemed to pose as a great obstacle for Balboa, Gunn just came off as a whiny little kid.
Luckily, Sylvester Stallone manages to carry the movie giving it some credibility. However, it doesn't make up for most this movie's short comings. If "Rocky V" only focused on Rocky's life after he was forced to retire, it would've been a lot better. Sadly though since Stallone felt his character had to fight someone, it felt like Tommy Gunn was just merely there just so they can have a fight at the end. Thus, weakening a almost promising sequel.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking this movie for any of it's flaws, I just wish it could have been been better. However, like all great athletes like Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, and Mahamad Ali who all showed decline throughout the later part of their careers, Rocky begins to show his which makes it fitting that should be his last movie. Having watched all the Rocky movies despite its decline in quality and originality in each passing sequel, the character development of the characters has always been solid. Providing so many great moments, in cinematic history, Rocky goes out swinging.