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  • Jun 15, 2011
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So I poke fun, but Stallone is a kitsch legend: ambitious, greasy, charismatic, mush-mouthed and as cheesy as a truckload of Velveeta. Join me on a thrilling overview of Sly's career as actor, director, screenwriter and master of mainstream schlock. Thus spake the icon, waxing epic: "Once in one's life, for one mortal moment, one must make a grab for immortality; if not, one has not lived." Indeed.
Italian Stallion
The plot: Sly nails his girlfriend and three of her acquaintances. A man is surely destined for greatness when his screen debut is a Z-porno for which he was paid $200.
Lords of Flatbush (1974)
Sly deserved at least $1K for physically abusing talentless goon Richard Gere between takes, but was instead paid with 25 free T-shirts. Even more hilarious, Henry Winkler is cast as a tough gang member. Ha ha ha!
Death Race 2000
"Who built this stinking road? If I ever get my hands on him, I'll rip his heart out!" Roger Corman, I proffer my deepest gratitude that you permitted Stallone to rewrite his own dialogue.
Thank heavens for the DVD edition, as I desperately need subtitles to decipher over half of Sly's exchanges in this. Of course it's set in Philly.
He actually stars as a fictional Jimmy Hoffa. I imagine that F.I.S.T. stands for Flagrant Idiot, Sitting Tough.
Paradise Alley
Essentially a swollen tick on the successful posterior of Rocky, this ill-conceived period drama depicts tough Italians of 1940s NYC slums, who hope to improve their lot in life...by wrestling. Stallone's first directorial effort is exactly how it sounds.
Rocky 2
Three years later, Stallone fights Carl Weathers again. That's it. That's the entire concept. On the other hand, there is this to savor: "Condominiums? I never use 'em."
Stallone and Billy Dee Williams are a pair of NYC cops out to foil a terrorist plot by Rutger Hauer and Persis Khambatta. Flirting with respectability, the film seems sound until Sly appears in drag. This was intended to be French Connection III until Hackman backed out. Ah, well.
Rocky III
Rocky fights Hulk Hogan and Mr. T in the second sequel that he scripted and helmed. Mind you, this occurred years before he ever signed a contract with Cannon.
First Blood
To see Brian Dennehy menaced by a muscle-bound guido is strangely satisfying. Furthermore, every line of Dick Crenna's dialogue is heaven to a 13-year-old boy: "You send that many, don't forget one thing. A good supply of body bags."
Staying Alive
Strutting oaf Travolta reprises his Saturday Night Fever role, dancing like a massive fruit in Stallone's fourth directorial effort. Sly wears some kind of bear pelt in a brief cameo.
Dolly Parton aims to transform The Stallion into a singer. How on Earth did Twentieth Century Fox spend $28M on this?!
Rambo: First Blood, Part II
God Dambo returns to Vietnam to rescue POWs and slaughter approximately ten thousand evil Vietnamese and some filthy Soviets for good measure.
Rocky IV
The Stallion finally goes mad with power as writer/director/star, and here's what happens: one pet robot, a flagrantly homoerotic training montage, Brigitte Nielsen and Dolph Lundgren as Russians (for Americans can't distinguish Scandinavians from Slavs), montages within montages and some of the silliest dialogue ever. A kitsch masterwork, this.
Cobra (1986)
It was a match made in schlock heaven when Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus gave Stallone carte blanche to star in and write the final draft of this ludicrous tale about a trigger-happy cop and the street gang who loathes him. I'm certain that this is what Stallone sees whenever his eyes are shut.
Over the Top
Under Menahem Golan's direction, Stallone crushes opposing knuckles into tabletops as a trucker who transforms into a champion arm wrestler in a pathetic attempt to win his son's respect. His character's patriotic name is actually Lincoln Hawk. With even more hilarious, ill-conceived dialogue than the usual Cannon outing, this is another victory for lovers of fine cheese.
Rambo 3 (1988)
In his third outing, sweaty, shirtless Slambo rescues Richard Crenna by murdering Soviets galore in Afghanistan with the aid of the Mujahedeen...weeks after the USSR withdrew their forces. Whoops.
Lock Up
Here, the imprisoned muscleman is granted a mere two rolls of toilet paper every month. I'd be inspired to kill.
Tango & Cash
Paired with Kurt Russell against scheming Jack Palance and a malefic Brion James, Stallone is again Framed For a Crime He Did Not Commit. Stupid though it is, its casting alone renders me physically incapable of disliking it.
Rocky V
Now broke and risibly brain-damaged, Rocky trains a Roddy Piper doppelganger to follow in his meaty footsteps. John Avildsen returns to direct this in very much the same style of the first film, but a relative lack of montage dooms the venture to boredom.
Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot
Though I have viewed this from start to finish, I remember not a moment of it. Apparently, my memory of this has been repressed as that of any other trauma might.
Demolition Man
Stallone and Snipes are thawed out in an obnoxious suburban future dominated by toothless social democrats, and proceed to explode it while trying to kill each other. In a pair of subplots, Denis Leary babbles incessantly and Nigel Hawthorne arrives to collect a paycheck.
The Specialist
This is essentially a series of explosions punctuated by something resembling a story, which occurred behind me on a television set a dozen times in the '90s while I was building Lego play sets. Stallone, Stone and Roberts don't think twice about doing something this stupid, but one can see the shame in Rod Steiger's eyes.
Judge Dredd
How to butcher a classic comic book? STALLONE IT and pay Max von Sydow to attend, hoping that his past glories will overshadow such unscrupulous profit.
Both the Wachowskis and quintessential Hollywood hack Brian Helgeland write moronic action flicks effortlessly, but only Richard Donner could take a stupid script and fashion it into an even dumber movie by embedding leftist political statements into its scenery. Stallone takes a back seat to Banderas, who proves himself quite the babbling idiot when Almodovar isn't about.
Rocky Balboa
Following a vacation of twenty-one years, Stallone again takes seat in the director's chair, presumably because nobody else could helm a film about a sixty-year-old boxing champion without giggling. Hasn't he anything better to do?
Apparently not. There's a certain pattern here...ah, of course he wrote, directed and starred in it. Who else would? I can't help but wonder if he packs his ammunition beside his diapers or in them to prevent oxidation.
The Expendables
Aging action stars assemble to fight something or other while demolishing not only their dignity, but any potential dignity they might someday develop. On both sides of the camera, Stallone is already planning a sequel to this in the time-honored tradition of a sub-genre that's well beyond its expiration date.

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July 12, 2011
I'm loath to admit that I actually laughed at RHINESTONE, but there it is. I can't deny it.
June 28, 2011
Awesome list. I like Stallone. Even bad Stallone can be good, though I haven't seen Stop or my Mom Will Shoot, so.......
June 28, 2011
Thank you! To be fair, I should add Cop Land, a good crime drama in which Stallone impressively holds his own in exchange with his more critically admired co-stars (Liotta, Keitel, Vincent, Moriarty, etc.).

Stop or My Mom Will Shoot is one so many innocuous though undeniable portents of the decline of western civilization.
June 17, 2011
Excellent list of Stallone films! I wrote a review on Fist if you want to read, rate, and/or comment on it. Would love to know what you think: http://www.lunch.com/MovieHype/Reviews/movie/F_I_S_T-13-1742445.html
June 15, 2011
LOVE the title, Robert! Oh, and awesome list :)
June 16, 2011
Thanks again, Devora, yet the greater part of credit is owed Sly, without whom we'd be so many montages and sweaty close-ups poorer.
June 16, 2011
Mmmmm, sweaty close-ups :)
June 15, 2011
June 16, 2011
June 16, 2011
HEEHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! :D :D :D Yaysies! ^-^ ♥ Annusya ♥
About the list creator
Robert Buchanan ()
Ranked #29
I'm a bibliophile, ailurophile, inveterate aggregator, dedicated middlebrow and anastrophizing syntax addict. My personality type is that of superlative INTJ.
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