(This is the fifth in a series of reviews of the entire Rocky / Rambo sequence)
As you might expect by now, I’m beginning to feel just a little fatigue about this whole endeavor.
But you know, even though there’s not a whole lot of difference from one Rocky movie to the next, this one did manage to put a few new wrinkles on the Rocky [insert roman numeral here] formula.
But first, a couple observations. Each movie in the sequence begins precisely where the previous one ends. There’s never more than six months or so worth of training before the big fight at the end. Yet Rocky’s son grows from a glimmer in Adrian’s eye to a feisty teenager in the space of a three or four movie years, tops. The first movie is set in 1976, when Rocky is “over the hill” at 30, but in the 1990 setting of the final movie, Rocky is supposed to be “in his prime.”
Even weirder, when Rocky returns from his triumphant victory in Russia at the the beginning of Rocky V, he arrives at a different house from the one he left to go train in Russia during Rocky IV.
Besides the problems with setting and chronology, the movie does manage to tell a reasonably coherent story, one that is somewhat interesting and engaging. Unfortunately, it’s also almost unbearably corny. It goes like this. Rocky loses all his money and has to move back to the old neighborhood due to stupid investment decisions. Then he sends his son to the tough local school to be savagely attacked by the local thugs. Next he meets a promising young boxer from Oklahoma, and so instead of helping out his kid (who he always calls “kid”), he gets all buddy-buddy with the new boxer and trains him to be a killer in his own image.
Meanwhile his son learns how to beat up the thugs himself so that he can — no joke — befriend them. Then the promising young boxer ditches Rocky for a glitzy promoter named
Don King George Washington Duke (Get it? A duke is sort of like a king!).
Anyhoo, the twist in this one is that instead of getting into a fight at the end of the movie, Rocky gets into a street fight at the end of the movie — see, it’s different!
So overall, Rocky V is much better than it could have been — better than both Rocky II and Rocky IV. Unfortunately, that still doesn’t make it a very good movie.