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Musings from the Edge of Forever

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with RONIN ON EMPTY.

Gwailo Corner: ROCKY V (1990)

Rocky V

Stallone ponders the final fate of the Rocky franchise.

Year: 1990

Director: John G. Avilson

Writer: Sylvester Stallone

Cast:
Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Sage Stallone, Tommy Morrison, Richard Gant, Tony Burton, Burgess Meredith (cameo)

The Plot:

A brain-damaged Rocky returns to the United States, only to find that his accountant has swindled him out of his vast fortune. Without medical clearance to fight, Rocky can’t earn the big payday he most desparately needs to save himself from personal bankruptcy. Consequently, Rocky, Adrian, Rocky Jr. (Sage Stallone), and Paulie are forced to move back to the old neighborhood in order to make ends meet. While there, Rocky meets Tommy Gunn (real-life boxer Tommy Morrison), a scruffy kid from Oklahoma with dreams of boxing superstardom. Rocky agrees to manage Tommy, but unfortunately, he ends up neglecting his real son in the process. Meanwhile, a Don King-esque promoter (Richard Gant) seeks to steal Tommy away with the lure of big bucks and easy women. Will Rocky be able to mend his relationship with his son? Will Tommy go over to the dark side? And will Rocky be able to solve the situation with a good hard uppercut to Tommy’s jaw? Absoloootely.

Paulie’s A-Hole Factor:

Minimal. Paulie is technically responsible for the loss of Rocky’s fortune, but he actually comes off more sympathetic than I remember.

Anomalies in the Time/Space Continuum:

Rocky, Jr. ages considerably from Rocky IV to Rocky V. Unless the plane from Russia took five years to arrive in the United States, consider this one of the more glaring continuity gaffes in the series.

Circling the Wagons:

Perhaps due to the brain damage, Rocky’s personality and mannerisms revert back to that of the more jovial, talkative, and “unsophisticated” Rocky of part I and, to a lesser extent, part II. In fact, Rocky probably has more lines of dialogue in this movie than parts III and IV combined. If that wasn’t enough of a regression, Rocky also adopts his old wardrobe and starts smoking again.
John G. Avilson, director of the first film, returns to helm V.
Father Carmine from Rocky II returns.
Mickey (Burgess Meredith) comes back from the dead in flashback.
Tommy wins his first fight in the same place where Rocky beat Spider Rico in the first film.

Training Montage:

Rocky trains and manages Tommy Gunn to the rap tune “Heart and Fire (Go for It!)” in a sequence which includes the customary trot up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Thankfully, Stallone did not include “Gonna Fly Now” in any capacity during this sequence, as to not elevate Tommy to the same level as Mr. Balboa. Tommy’s rise up the boxing ranks and descent into bad guy idiocy is cut together as a montage as well, this time to the forgettable tune, “Rock Hard Body Blow.” The worst of the series, but mainly because it’s not really Rocky’s montage.

Best Lines:

“GET UP YOU SONUVABITCH! ‘Cuz Mickey loves ya.” — Mickey
“Sue me for what?” — Rocky Balboa

The Big Fight:

STREET FIGHT! Rather than have yet another climactic world title match, Rocky V decides to end the series “in the streets.” To wit, Tommy and Rocky end up brawling outside the bar featured in the first film. It’s all fairly ludicrious (I love how the police don’t interfere until it’s over), but seeing Rocky beat the dog piss out of Tommy Gunn is almost worth the price of admission alone. Almost.

Final Decision:

Rocky V isn’t as bad I remember. I think Stallone’s instincts were right in returning Rocky to where he began, but as a final film in a saga, Rocky V is pretty weak. I’m sure it was a sucker punch for viewers in 1990 to watch as Rocky lost his everything he worked so hard to gain. But leaving all that aside, I have to say it’s really not very fun watching Rocky so totally invest himself in an affable mental case like Tommy Gunn (he’s got serious Daddy issues!). Nor does one take great pleasure in watching a father-son relationship go to hell. I could also do without Sage Stallone’s attempts at teen angst. Granted, it’s all done in the name of creating “conflict” and “drama,” but it just feels wrong for a Rocky movie. Again, as much as I enjoy seeing Rocky knock Tommy’s mullet off in the last act, I can’t honestly recommend this movie with good conscience. The best thing that can be said about it is it’s more or less a plot bridge that mobilizes the transition from Rocky IV to Rocky Balboa, but that’s about all it’s good for.
–>LOSER BY SPLIT DECISION

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