Monday, November 23, 2015

Movie Review: "Rocky V" (1990)

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Movie"Rocky V"
Director: John G. Avildsen
Year: 1990
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Rocky's (Sylvester Stallone) battle with Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) has left him with permanent brain damage, leading Rocky to finally retire or risk dying. Upon returning home from Russia, Rocky is surprised to find he accidentally gave power of attorney to his accountant, who then lost all of Rocky's fortune in a risky real estate scheme. Now, forced out of his mansion and back onto the streets of Philly, Rocky makes a living running Mickey's old gym, where he trains a new young prodigy named Tommy 'The Machine' Gunn (Tommy 'The Duke' Morrison), who asked for Rocky's help. Meanwhile, shady boxing promoter, George Washington Duke, is trying to goad Rocky out of retirement for one last payday. When Rocky says no, Duke turns his sights onto Tommy in the hopes of stealing him away from Rocky. 

After three movies in the director's chair, Sylvester Stallone relinquishes control of the fifth installment in the "Rocky" franchise back to the original "Rocky" director John G. Avildsen, though Stallone himself returns as writer and as Rocky himself in the titular role. After two movies being a millionaire sports star, Stallone needed to find a way to return Rocky back to a more relateable character. His solution was to have Rocky accidentally hand over power of attorney to his accountant, who immediately loses Rocky's entire fortune and all his property in the blink of an eye. This whole situation is way more than a little contrived to say the least and it's actually quite stupid when you stop to think about it. Of the "Rocky" sequels, this is probably the least formulaic in that Rocky isn't preparing for a fight, but it is also certainly the worst of the bunch. This film is about him dealing with brain damage from his bout with Ivan Drago in "Rocky IV," which leads to his definite retirement. Rocky himself, as well as his son Rocky Jr., have both undergone growth spurts of miraculous proportions in the few months Rocky was away in Russia. Oh, and speaking of Rocky Jr., Stallone felt it was necessary to pull a mistake of Coppola-esque proportions in casting his real life son Sage Stallone in the part. He certainly wasn't the best actor, but watching him in this film and knowing what befell him many decades later, it's sort of sad in retrospect to see them fight on screen. Rocky and his son have a falling out when Rocky takes a young boxing prodigy named Tommy 'The Machine' Gunn, played by real life boxer and nephew of John Wayne Tommy 'The Duke' Morrison, under his wing and into his home. Rocky trains Tommy and treats him like a son, but simultaneously ignores his own kid along the way. This causes Rocky Jr. to head down a rebellious path full of chips on his shoulder and anger in his heart. Surrounding all of this is the story line with a shady boxing promoter named George Washington Duke, who is obviously inspired by real life shady boxing promoter Don King. Duke will stop at nothing to get Rocky into the ring just one more time. If Duke can't get Rocky, he is willing to settle for taking Tommy away from him to use as a pawn to achieve his end goal.

It some ways, it's nice to see a deviation from the formulaic, inspirational sports franchise we have known and loved, but by 1990 and after the 4 previous "Rocky" movies, it just isn't enough. The move back to a more personal drama that started the series is refreshing, but the story just doesn't have the same emotional oomph the previous films had. It would have been suicide to give Rocky permanent damage from the Drago fight and then make him step into the ring one more time in this film, so we welcome the deviation, but wish it would have been executed much better. It really could have been something inspirational, life after the ring and all that jazz. Couple this with the fact that Sylvester Stallone really, really mumbles a lot here, and Sage Stallone overacts every. single. line. he is given, this is definitely the weakest link in the series. This is also the first PG-13 film of the bunch, but it doesn't really have to be as there's nothing that constitutes the need for a PG-13 rating in our opinion. Despite all of this, it's still sort of enjoyable, especially if you're marathoning the entire franchise like we are. There are a few "fall from grace" moments for Rocky that are worth sticking around for, even though most of it is super cheesy at this point.

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 26%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.
To see our review of "Rocky," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky II," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky III," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky IV," click here.

To see our review of "Rocky Balboa," click here.

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