Rocky. Everyone in the United States knows who Rocky is. If you don’t, you’ve basically been living under a rock. Sylvester Stallone created a fictional character that is literally one of the most inspiring and iconic fictional characters of all time. I’ve been watching Rocky movies since I was a kid but I had only ever seen Rocky III (which is my favorite installment) and Rocky IV. Then I saw Creed and Creed II, which were also pretty good. But there were two important Rocky movies I had never thought about watching before and that was Rocky and Rocky II.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post sharing my ranking of all of the Oscar-winning movies I had ever seen but when I went to look at a list of all the Oscar-winning films my jaw dropped when I saw that Rocky was on that list. All this time I have loved these movies and I didn’t see the one that got a freaking Oscar for Best Picture! What?! So, because Netflix just released all five Rocky movies on their streaming service, I decided to watch it, and boy was I surprised.
To know that Sylvester Stallone wrote the screenplay for Rocky in three and a half days after watching the championship match between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner in 1975 is just…astounding considering how beautifully composed this story.
What I found to be very interesting was that Rocky, at the beginning of the film, isn’t the most likable fella. He’s boxing in scrappy matches that pay him $40 for a win and harassing poor folk on Philadelphia’s streets as a debt collector but it’s soon very apparent that he’s not a bully or a bad person per se. He’s just an Italian guy trying to make it and it’s not hard not to fall in love with this character within the movie’s first fifteen-twenty minutes.
But what I found the most intriguing was the simple fact that Rocky, unlike its sequels and even the Rocky spinoff, isn’t exactly about Balboa/The Italian Stallion preparing for the biggest fight of his life. That’s an element to the movie but really Rocky is simply an amazing love story.
Gosh! Whatever happened to those beautiful love stories with romances so well-written that when the two people kiss for the first time you feel like clapping and crying with sheer joy? Has true love been sucked out of the world so badly that people don’t even know how to convey it in fiction anymore? I mean, come on!
The relationship between Rocky and Adrian is so beautiful that it is, truly, the driving force and the shining light of the film. Everything else is simply revolving around them and those other elements are fascinating too. From Rocky’s conflicted relationship with Mickey to the emotional rollercoaster that is a friendship with Adrian’s drunk brother, Paulie this movie will punch you in your emotional core like a boxer hitting a punching bag.
And while the match between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed at the end of the movie feels like the Obi-Wan/Darth Vader lightsaber duel in A New Hope because it’s so much lamer in comparison to the other boxing matches conveyed in the franchise’s sequels and spinoffs the conclusion is still so beautiful that you’re bound to cry. Truly, truly, beautiful stuff.
(I’m getting emotional just thinking about it.)
While Rocky III will always be my favorite Rocky and sporting movie of all time for its emotional complexity and inspiring moments (and Mr. T’s Clubber Lang, the greatest fictional boxer antagonist of all time) I found Rocky to be WAY better than I expected.
It was so good in fact that I watched twice in one day (once by myself and once with my family who also hadn’t seen it) and it was STILL amazing!
Sylvester Stallone is an amazing man to write something so incredible that it would instantly make him an icon. And once again I must reiterate, he wrote the screenplay in three and a half days! It’s mind-blowing.
I thank you for reading and I hope you have a fantastic day.