A look at the film that kick-started Stallone’s career and why you should “go the distance” and see it. Please resist the urge to shout “Adrian”.

Okay, so if this gets published this will be my first entry on Sick Chirpse. Are you as excited as I am? Sure you are. Whilst this entry could be some whacky tale of a drunken misadventure or a passionate rant about how everyday life annoys me (If I get this position, there’s plenty of them to come believe me), this is instead a review of one of my all time favourite films of all time. Rocky.

Ask most people about Rocky these days and the responses tend to range from “I like the one with the Russian” or someone shouting “Adriaaaann” whilst waiting for a high five that they’re never going to get. In some ways the blame rests with Sylvester Stallone, who took the series to such absurd heights (See “The one with the Russian” ) and became such a parody of himself in later years that people seem to have forgotten why we loved Stallone. And his dim but good natured boxer.

For a film so associated with blood, sweat and testosterone, and a protagonist who would eventually evolve into boxings very own Superman, it’s the subtle, softer moments that make Rocky such a pleasure to watch. You’ll notice right away that Rocky is a very different film to its sequels, not least for its low budget aesthetics, but in the characterisation of its titular character. Far from the confident machismo of later entries, Rocky is a down and out who makes a living as a heavy for a local loan shark, his boxing career having failed for reasons which are never specified. What is clear is that Rocky is, in the words of his mentor Mickey, a bum. It’s to Stallone’s credit that even in the films downbeat 1st act we attach ourselves to Rocky. He may be a bum, but he’s a sympathetic one who appears to be a victim of circumstance more than anything. Even though he’s surrounded himself with the wrong people, his heart is in the right place. Having made our emotional connection to Rocky, the film hits its stride when he enters into a romantic relationship with his best friend’s sister, Adrian (played by Talia Shire). It’s the awkward but engaging romance between the two that really carries the film. It’s real heart-warming stuff, a quality script coming together with great performances.

Speaking of performances, there’s a cast of memorable supporting players. There’s Burgress Meredith’s cantankerous but inevitable father figure Mickey, Burt Young’s obnoxious but somewhat tragic Paulie and the big screen debut of Carl “baby we got a stew going Weathers as Apollo Creed, the charismatic, antagonistic and flamboyant world champion. Thankfully Creed’s flamboyant/unfortunate choice in clothing in this installment is limited to the famous Uncle Sam body suit and not the…..whatever the hell he wears out on his days at the beach.

Oh yeah, there’s some boxing too.

The scenes of Rocky training are more grounded then later instalments. You won’t find any homoerotic runs down the beach, and poor Russian peasants are nowhere to be seen. Instead Rocky pounds raw meat and makes his first run up thePhiladelphiasteps, in a sequence that is impressive but not unbelievable. He’s the everyman, determined to as he puts it, go the distance. The obligatory big fight at the film’s climax is the most realistic of the series. The choreography may have dated slightly, but there’s a real raw emotion to this fight. Our attachment to Rocky is such that we wince at every punch he takes, and feel elated whenever he lands a hit on Apollo. When the final bell rings, it’s impossible not to feel moved.

Without a doubt, the film is Stallone’s finest hour. If everyone has one masterpiece in them, this was his. Having written the script and delivering a stunning performance, both of which were nominated for Academy awards, this film kick-started the string of sequels and led to a career that would define the genre of boxing movies. If Rocky were to be summed up in one word, it would be ‘passion’. It defines the love that Rocky andAdrianhave for each other, it drives Rocky to fight and it shines through from all those involved in the film making.

You owe it to yourself to see this movie. Even if you don’t like sports movies or Stallone, there’s still enough here for you to enjoy. And if that still doesn’t convince you…


What he said.



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