I think we can all agree that while Rocky V closed out the Rocky series with a little dignity it was still seen as the weakest of the Rocky movies. After it came out, Sylvester Stallone went on a tear doing some pretty lame movies. Some were better then others but most of them stunk. When it was announced that ANOTHER Rocky movie was coming out, people were stunned. Stallone had gone to the well with Rocky too many times in the past when his career was running on empty but at his age and over 15 years later, it would either be a fantastic film or further bury Stallone's most beloved character and his career further. Thankfully it's in the former category.
Time has passed and Rocky is now a widower with Adrian having succumed to what Rocky called "Woman's Cancer" and now runs her restaurant where Rocky puts on a suit and entertains his guests with old fight stories. He still lives in his old house and is getting by but he feels pain for his lost wife Adrian and the emptyness in his life. Rocky is anxious to get back into the ring, much to the dismay of his grown son who is stuggling to get out of his dads shadow and make his own life. Meanwhile the current heavyweight champ with one of those great Rocky names, Mason, "The Line" Dixon is losing his fans since no credible challegers and his pay per view buyrates are tanking. Hearing that Rocky is wanting to pursue boxing again, Mason's agents arrange an exhibition with Rocky in hopes of boosting Mason's popularity and giving Rocky a chance to have one more match that he needs.
I never grew up watching Rocky and didn't see it until much later in life when I already knew about many of the movies nuances and thus didn't get the impact I should have had when I watched. With this movie, thankfully I can see what the love of the first film had. Seeing Rocky train and work to overcome the odds was a real satisfying feeling that I haven't felt in a while. Mason is probably the best of the "villain" boxers in the Rocky series. He's a guy who wants credability for his skills and doesn't have any traits that make you hate him either. He's not a big mouth like Apollo or a bully like Clubber Lang, you want to see him get his rewards too.
The only regular back is Paulie who is still as much a curmudgen as he ever was. Rocky befriends and even has a close relationship with Marie and her grown so. You know Marie? The girl he walked home with in the first Rocky? The movie is smart to only hint at a love interest when it's smart enough to pull back and remind us Rocky still loves Adrian and Marie knows it.
Free of gimmicks and full of heart, you can tell Stallone labored over this to make it hit just right. Rocky Balboa sweeps the embarrassing fifth film under the canvas and gives Rocky a nice and appropriate retirement. I'd almost say I like it better then the first film and on par with the third. Movies with long awaited sequels only wish they could go the distance the way Rocky Balboa does. Absolutely.
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The sixth installment of the Rocky series picks up the story of the Italian Stallion 16 years after the morose Rocky V. And sure, at his advanced age, Sylvester Stallone now looks like one of those sides of beef his character used to pound on. No matter. Somehow you buy the premise after all these years, even if it takes forever for Rocky Balboa to stop wallowing in self-pity (Adrian is dead, his old haunts are demolished) and get down to the business of drinking raw eggs and running up staircases. The business at hand is an unlikely exhibition fight with champion Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver), which the near-sexagenarian Mr. Balboa has no business accepting. Of course, just as sure as the horns of Bill Conti's theme music are even now trumpeting through your head, the ol' Rock might have a punch or two left in him. Stallone wrote and directed, and there isn't much to say except that the movie steps in its pre-determined paces with a canny sense of what has come before (it's practically an homage to all the previous Rocky pictures, complete with fleeting flashbacks). Burt Young is around again, and Geraldine Hughes makes an appealing, rather chaste female companion for Rocky. Stallone's Rocky has gotten suspiciously articulate over the years, but he still knows how to slouch. If Stallone never forgets that, he can probably keep the franchise rolling. --Robert Horton