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Win Rocky Win!
on March 7, 2003
The classic Rocky series is on DVD, and as such has successfully achieved the immortality it deserves. However, for a 5-disc "Collector's Set," these DVDs are so bare-bones and devoid of features that they wouldn't be worth the purchase if they were by themselves unless you were an absolute hardcore Rocky fan. The only DVD with extras on it is Rocky I. There is no 'deleted footage' that I noticed integrated into the movie, nor is there any list of deleted scenes. There are a few short documentaries and that's about it. Disappointment aside, the transfer of the movies is great. I'll break down each movie for you:
Rocky I: A small-time bar-room brawler gets his shot at fame and glory when Undisputed World Champion Apollo Creed(Carl Weathers) decides to give a local underdog a 'big chance' when the #1 contender for the title suffers an injury. What follows is a moving and inspiring story about Rocky Balboa, a genuine nobody working as a "collector" for a loan-shark. When Rocky hears of Apollo's challenge, he turns to legend Mickey Goldmill(Burgess Meredith) to help, despite a falling out the two of them had previously. An exciting and inspiring training montage followed by one of the best boxing matches in fictional history tops off a classic that's been deemd 'An American Tradition.'
Rocky II: Every bit as good as Rocky I, if not better. Rocky goes the distance...15 rounds with Apollo Creed, something that the champ has never encountered. After receiving bad press and hate mail based on the decision in favor of Apollo, Creed takes it upon himself to instigate a now retired Rocky to come out and face him one more time. The confident champion thinks he'll beat Rocky in less than 2 rounds. But a much more determined and head-strong Rocky proves to be quite a match for Apollo. Now married to Adrian(Talia Shire) and having recently been gifted a newborn son, Rocky takes his training to the next level in yet another inspiring and energizing training montage, followed by a fight that nearly rivals the first!
Rocky III: Having defeated Apollo and gaining the World Heavyweight title, Rocky has a series of successful defenses for 3 straight years. However, fame and fortune goes to his head, and Rocky is completely unprepared for a fight with the most brutal and merciless opponent he had ever faced: Clubber Lang(MR. T in his debut movie role). Beaten within an inch of his life in a humiliating 2 round KO, Rocky experiences a terrible heartbreak as Mickey suffers from a heart attack and passes away. A much more cool-headed and respectable Apollo Creed is saddened to see Rocky, the man who retired him(and ultimately was created by him), lose heart and give up, and inspires him to rise up against Clubber Lang in a rematch. Apollo becomes his trainer and helps Rocky regain the 'Eye of the Tiger' to defeat Clubber Lang and recover his glory. Definitely the last great movie in the series (and fan favorite among many)
Rocky IV: Clubber Lang nearly ended Rocky's career, but an exhibition match with Soviet powerhouse Ivan Drago leaves Apollo Creed dead in the ring, and Rocky overwhelmed with grief. Rocky goes to Russia to train hard and fight quite possibly the deadliest boxer in the world. The serires goes downhill from here, as random silliness (such as Paulie's robotic maid)just bring the film's quality down. Like Sly's other franchise Rambo, Rocky IV is a very anti-soviet film, but it culminates with a patriotic and powerful message that the East and the West can live in peace.
Rocky V: The series hits its lowest point. Rocky suffers irreversible and possibly terminal brain damage from his fight with Drago. When he returns home, Rocky finds that Paulie entrusted the family riches to a crooked bookie who loses everything, forcing Rocky into life-long debt, selling everything he owns and moving back to the slums of Philadelphia. Forced to retire from the ring, a big time promoter in the vain of Don King tries to get him back in, but instead Rocky takes hotshot youth Tommy Gunn under his wing. Tommy is lured away by the promoter and insults and taunts Rocky, leading to a final street fight. The film sort of ruins Rocky's fame and glory, returning him to his roots. It wasn't necessary and could've been done quite differently.
So there you have it...all the DVD's are devoid of extras, other than theatrical trailers. Rocky I has a few extras but nothing particularly noteworthy. In any case, if youare even REMOTELY a Rocky fan, do NOT pass this up! Rocky is indeed an American Tradition and is an inspiring and poignant saga of a man who went from rags to riches in the name of glory and determination.