THE PLOT THUS FAR
When he loses a highly publicized virtual boxing match to ex-champ Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), reigning heavyweight titleholder Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver) retaliates by challenging the Italian Stallion to a nationally televised, 10-round exhibition bout. To the surprise of his son and friends, Rocky agrees to come out of retirement and face an opponent who’s faster, stronger and thirty years his junior. With the odds stacked firmly against him, Rocky takes on Dixon in what will become the greatest fight in boxing history, a hard-hitting, action-packed battle of the ages!
WHAT WE THOUGHT
Rocky Balboa finds the aging Rocky living a modest life in Philadelphia where he runs a restaurant where he shares his stories with the patrons. His closest relationship is with Adrian, dead for a few years, while his relationship with his son withers. He is a man seeking personal connections who is left sadly unfulfilled. He tries to reconnect with his son who doesn’t have the time, and until he fortuitously encounters a woman, Marie, he knew years earlier as a young girl, it would seem he is doomed to loneliness.
This is a movie that is about the characters and less about the action. It is squarely anchored on Stallone’s aging shoulders. The Rocky character is seeking to move forward with his life, and that means he has to step into the ring one more time. In order to feed his desires, he only seeks to do some local, small time fights, perhaps as a way to give back to the community. He winds up in an exhibition match with the reigning heavyweight champ. The reasons for the fight strike me as a little contrived, but work well in the structure of the movie. First there is a simulated fight done by ESPN pitting Rocky, in his prime, against Mason Dixon, the current champ. The fight has Rock coming out on top, this gets people thinking. Secondly, Mason’s handlers are seeking to help get some credibility for their man who’s popularity has waned with the absence of real competition, when they hear of Rocky getting back in the ring, they see an opportunity to foster some good will with the boxing world.
This is a movie that worms its way into your heart with its blend of inspirational speeches and surprisingly subtle acting from our lead. It is a movie that finds Stallone not only starring, but writing and directing. The resulting film gives a look into a surprisingly effective creative vision. It is filled with moments that make you want to cheer, as well as moments that will make you feel for the battered boxer.
The Blu-Ray is part of the Undisputed Collection. Almost identical to the previous Blu-Ray release, the disc is offset by the Collection’s bonus disc. It sports interviews with the actors, vintage television stops to promote the films and a look back at the Rocky actors that have died. If that wasn’t enough, you get a breakdown of the actual boxing in the film. Plus, there’s a Blu-Ray exclusive BD-Java game included in the release. Throw on reference quality DTS-HD and 1080 transfer for a must-buy.
RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW!