Directed by: John Avildsen
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Romance
Runtime: 119 Minutes
Sylvester Stallone, the Italian Stallion. A.K.A: Rocky. Stallone who both wrote and starred as the titular character truly made a breakthrough in his career here where his heart and soul have been expressed into the film, giving it a feel-good energy that does not come easy in films. The story of a little man going big is still a classic, and should remain that for some time. “Rocky” is among the greats of the 70’s because it is more than just a film about boxing, it is about opportunity, hope and perseverance.
Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is a down-on-his-luck boxer; a once-promising pugilist, Rocky is now taking small bouts and running strong-arm errands for local loan sharks to survive. Even his supportive trainer, Mickey (Burgess Meredith), has given up on Rocky. All this changes thanks to Muhammad Ali-like super-boxer Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). With the Bicentennial celebration coming up, Creed must find a "Cinderella" opponent for the big July 4th bout -- someone unknown whom Creed can "glorify" for a few minutes before knocking him cold.
The script is perfect: A poverty-stricken boxer who appears as a friendly and caring man who is simply down on his luck. It is plenty to feat on when watching. In the story, he has a love affair with his friends sister, Adrian (Talia Shire). The film is very predictable, and you will have a good idea of how it unfolds, but the film is still lovable.
In addition, the characters are golden. “Rocky” is a low-time boxer who runs as he shadow-boxes and feels trapped in his rough neighbourhood. Our hero has a certain innocence that literally makes you want him to achieve his goals. Adrian was delightful and so was her brother in the film, Paulie (Burt Young).
The Italian Stallion known as Sylvester Stallone may not be the most handsome faced fellow, but he has a hell of a body. (Not saying in a homosexual way). The most fascinating thing about this film is how it is a reflection of Stallone’s feelings. In his childhood, kids used to tease Stallone and call him “Sylvie” because he was gentle as a fly. Parts of his face have been paralysed due to an accident during birth and the physical actor even starred in a porno out of desperation of being kicked out of his apartment. The personal appeal of his feelings is rushed into this film giving it a beautiful energy. Stallone may not look smart, but through his writing and acting talent, he surely is.
The other thing that makes “Rocky” such a great film is it is more than just a film about boxing. Sure, we see him boxing all around, whether it is the film’s opening or the film’s ending or even all the training, the film is still a good drama. I myself, find the sport of boxing quite violent and stupid, but cinema seems to capture it nicely. The film portrays it as a last resort for those who are down on their luck and low on cash. The drama aspect of the film is excellent. Not only is it a solid drama, but it is a story of a small man making it big, showing that anyone can do anything if they put their head to it. This is one of the reasons the film is timeless.
The film undoubtedly had a legacy. Long before I watched the film, I was aware of the famous song “Gonna Fly Now” and the infamous scene where he runs the steps of Philadelphia’s Museum of Art. The film left an impact on cinema influencing many films of the future. One that comes to mind is “The Karate Kid” in 1984, were our protagonist Daniel trains for the Karate tournament, and our film ends with a feel-good climax similar to that of Rocky. Some of the scenes featured in the film are timeless, memorable and wonderfully written.
Of course, we cannot go without mentioning the direction from John Avildsen, who controlled this film with great care. Ensuring that the story does not become focused on so much of the subject, being boxing, and making sure Stallone follows his own character well. So Stallone and Avildsen make an excellent pair and went on to coincidentally, make "The Karate Kid". This may be the reason behind the similarities they have.
“Rocky” is a sporting feel-good film that is definitely a contender as one of the great movies of the 70’s. With a meagre budget of $1 million, the film went on to make 60 times its budget and even won several Academy Awards, including best picture. This sporting B-movie fought its way to the top and has since been a cherished feel-good film. Through the slurred-speech, and heavy training is a champion. Even if you do not like boxing, or films about sport, you may still enjoy this film. I may like it more than others may, but that is how I feel about this classic. This is a timeless sport drama to be remembered for years to come.