Rocky V (1990) – John G. Avildsen

Sylvester Stallone writes and stars in Rocky V, which sees the return of John G. Avildsen to the series, back for the first time since his directorial turn in the original Rocky. This one get slammed pretty hard by Stallone and some fans (at least it doesn’t have any robots in it) but this may in fact be my favourite of the series after Rocky II.

Paulie (Burt Young), who I’ve never liked, made a huge financial mistake while he was over in Russia with Rocky (Stallone) and Adrian (Talia Shire) for the events of Rocky IV, he gave Rocky’s business manager power of attorney, and now, all the money is gone.

So the family loses everything, Rocky has retired, boxing has taken its toll on him, and they have to move back to the shadier part of town that they came from, with their teenage son, Rocky Jr. (Sage Stallone), in tow. Junior is book-smart and has some problems fitting in, but he’s unable to turn to his father, because Rocky has taken over Mickey’s (Burgess Meredith) old gym, and has found an up-and-comer that may be as good as he was, Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison).

Tommy and Rocky find themselves pressured by Richard Gant’s George W. Duke (based very obviously on Don King) to get into the ring and fight for the heavyweight championship. In fact, Duke does his able best to win Tommy over with money, cars, and girls, and Rocky discovers that Tommy is not the man he thought he was, and the pair may find themselves going head to head before the end of the film.

Weaving through it all is Junior’s struggle to attempt to connect with his dad, something that it takes Adrian to point out to Rocky.

This feels like a slightly smaller story, and it was nice to eschew some of the bigger trappings of the series, though I would have been delighted if Paulie had been ousted as well. I get that he’s family, but after what he did, the fact that both Rocky and Adrian allow him to hang around, and still be the worst version of himself. Ugh.

Bill Conti returns to render the film’s score, which is filled with 90s rap and dance, as the film tries to chase the next big thing, though it really doesn’t work here. Honestly, the only time it feels like it ever worked was in Rocky III.

I know I’ve seen the next film in the series, Rocky Balboa, but I don’t remember much about it, much like I didn’t recall very much about V apparently, so I’ll be curious to see how the main series ends up.

I’ve really enjoyed checking out these films, they endure because they are fun, even with some of their clunkier, and sillier moments.

Gonna fly now!


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