"What’s crazy about standing toe to toe and saying ‘I AM’?"
In the 1980’s, seeing Rocky fight the unbeatable Russian, to have Adrian lose faith in him, to have the whole world think he dies if he fights this machine, well, this was stuff that scars a young teenage kid…..in a good way! The training scene was breath-taking, edge-of-your-seat gasping for air type of a scene. His trainer:
Duke: You’re gonna go through hell, worse than any nightmare you’ve ever dreamed. But when it’s over, I know you’ll be the one standing. You know what you have to do. Do it……..DO IT!
How can one forget Rocky battling the giant Soviet? Rocky’s literally being pounded into submission. The Russians are smiling, he’s on the ropes and his Rocky’s chances are simply go….are go….BOOM! Rocky nails the Russian with a vicious Rocky blow! With that shot – with that one single bomb the whole world took pause. Was it possible? Did Rocky just dent the mammoth man that stood before him? Did we just see what we saw? Do we believe? The bell starts ringing in the back ground, the music starts to build, the level of excitement increases, the crowd starts to gasp and then, in the corner of the ring, his trainer Duke utters that awe-inspiring line which leads to a complete onslaught of energetic, over-the-top, miracle music!
Duke: He’s worried! You cut him! You hurt him! You see? You see? He’s not a machine, he’s a man!
Those are the moments that define this franchise. Rocky Balboa is no different. As in life, as with us all, time and grief take their toll. It doesn’t help that his son doesn’t like hanging out with him because of the attention Rocky still receives. Rocky’s living his life but in the past. Down and somewhat depressed about the hand he’s been dealt, he looks inwards and backwards for answers. His old pal Paulie can’t stand to see him acting like a broken man, even though his concern is most likely rooted in his own regret. Once again, boxing comes to the rescue. Rocky sees a computer-simulated match between himself and the current world heavyweight champion, Mason “The Line” Dixon (Antonio Tarver) – and Rocky wins the simulation! The fight promoters for the current champ want Rocky to fight an exhibition because the champ’s image needs a boost – for Rocko, it’s back to the gym, back with Duke in his corner, and the training begins with this line:
Duke: “You know all there is to know about fighting so there’s no need to go down that road again! To beat this guy you need speed, you don’t have it! And, your knees can’t take the pounding so hard running is out. You’ve got arthritis in your neck – you got calcium deposits on most of your joints, so sparring is out. So what we’re gonna be calling on is good old-fashioned BLUNT FORCE TRAUMA! HORSE POWER – HEAVY DUTY – CAST IRON – PILE DRIVING punches that’ll hurt so much they’ll rattle his ancestors!! Everytime you hit him with a shot it’s gonna feel like he was kissing the Express train! OK? Let’s start buildin’ some hurtin’ bombs!”
Yeah, that’s the line that does it!
Mason Dixon may have the iron fists and the knockout punch, but can that beat the heart and determination of a legend? Will Rocky go the distance again? Right after the movie starts, you’re hit with nostalgia (thanks to that music, which still works) – it “takes you back (Listen here)”. The flashbacks effectively convey Rocky’s emotional state of mind and there are some very poignant moments along the way! The storyline with his son also captures, to a lesser degree, what the struggle must be growing up the child of a ‘superhero.’ And it’s single mom Marie who gets the makeover treatment that worked so well on Adrian, but doesn’t work as well the second time around because he’s not romancing the girl (it feels empty without that romance). On that note, Geraldine Hughes is fantastic in her role as ‘Lil Marie.’ She’s very subdued and quiet and subtly revealing her own personal issues that life has dealt.
Of course, the great part of the movie is when boxing is brought to the forefront. They use a real boxer to go toe-to-toe with Sylvester Stallone and that decision was brilliant, because with the way the fight was shot, the sequences look great. The movie was filmed in front of a real boxing crowd and when that stadium erupts and the people all stand and cheer, you can feel the electricity in the room. How can you not stand up with them and start chanting, “Rock-y, Rock-y, Rock-y!!!!”
Overall, I loved the movie. I don’t need to argue someone’s point that it is not the best film of all time (Did you truly LOVE Citizen Kane? Ok then – shut up! I don’t need to make anyone understand that perhaps a character or two in the film could’ve been better developed. What I do feel the need to explain is that at 36 years old I went back in time. I went to a place far removed and revisited my youth just as I had left it. I felt the same emotion come up into my throat just as I did at the age of 7, 10, 13, 16, and 21. I felt that again in 2006 and I’m so very grateful for it. However, the sad fact remains in that I have probably seen my last Rocky movie. For me personally, that realization instills a great sadness. Is it because there will be no more movies? Partly. Perhaps though, it’s more because, like the latest installment of the series, I, too, am getting older.
Maybe I’m becoming more aware of own mortality? As for me, I love to lift weights and play basketball. The truth though is it gets harder. The weights become heavier, my speed and quickness are getting slower, my drive to improve has begun to wane. I guess we start taking more hits and more hits as we get older. But, like someone just said though, “It ain’t about how hard you hit… it’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward… how much you can take, and keep moving forward…” The good news is that I haven’t peaked yet. As I age, I assure you that I will still have something left in the basement, as well. Sometimes a simple movie comes along and reminds us of that. Yeah…I’d say that that is worth $7!
Rocky Balboa – the Movie? I loved it! (Click here)
Goto Thrillproductions.com for a set of awesome HIGH-DEFINITION pics from the shooting of Rocky Balboa.