While many reviewers trash this film, I take a different tact. Rocky returns from Russia with apparent brain damage, and his wife Adrian forbids him to fight professionally. Compounding their problems, they have lost all their money through a blunder by brother Paulie, and they have to move back into the old rough tough neighborhood of hard knocks.
Rocky V is a story of family. How will the family pull together to survive this setback? Rocky has a pre-teen son and although he loves him like a precious gem, the Rock is distracted from his son and his relationship with him, when another fighter, Tommy Gun, (Tommy Morrison) asks Balboa to train and manage him. So Tommy Gun becomes Rocky's surrogate son and Rocky sees himself in Tommy Gun and pours all of his energy and love into developing Tommy Gun while neglecting the emotional needs of his own son. There is also tension between Adrain and Rocky, as she sees Rocky neglecting his family for one last shot of fame thorugh Tommy Gun. The scenes with Adrian are realistic and passionite, and I admire her (acting) ability to stand up to her famous husband to set his straight. She is the moral compass in his life. Witout Adrian, Rocky would be adrift at see without a rudder.
Abruptly, Tommy Gun is lured away from Rocky's teaching and guidance by a "Don King-like" charcter. Gun wins the championship and does not find his fans pleased with him, as they resent him for abandoning the man who got him to the top - Rocky Balboa. So, unrealistically, Tommy Gun initiates a street brawl with Balboa outside the neighborhood bar. It is a fight to the finish. Rocky settles his differences with Tommy Gun in a protracted physical battle.
Some highlights of the film are when Rocky goes back to Mick's gym and we view a flashback of Mick training Rocky for the Apollo Creed bout and telling Rocky how much he means to him. It is a touching scene, and Burgess Meridith is excellent in showing his passion and love for Rocky. Dittos with the scene where Adrian confronts Rocky on the street after Tommy Gun abandones him, and chastises him for losing his family for his devotion to Tommy Gun. Finally, I loved the scene where Rocky goes down to the street corner to reestablish his relationship with his estranged son. It is touching and realistic, and shows the tender heart of Rocky that we have all come to love.
As the movie closes, we are treated to scenes of all the previous Rocky movies, from the very beginning to the end. From this visual reviewal, it is apparent that this was to be the last Rocky movie. And it could have ended here on a satisfactory note, as all the key issues in the film have been resolved. However, Stallone's career did not take off as expected after he had put Rocky to rest, so in 2006, he released the final (final) Rocky movie, which by the way is a treat to watch too.
I recommend Rocky 5 as a highly entertaining movie that captures the heart of the character of Rocky and his evolving relationships with his beloved Adrian and his son.