Jay C. Brandriet
Like many of you, I love my Rocky movies. Here is my ranking of favorites from worst to first.
#8- “ROCKY V”
We may not agree on which film is the best, but most of us will say with pride that Rocky five sucked. As a movie alone, it’s solid. Maybe its a “7”. Compared to what we expect, part five is the only one that didn’t deliver. The show was an attempt to say goodbye before time allowed the writers to have better perspective. Stallone himself, admits a lack of commitment to this chapter of the series. Rocky going “backwards” so fast, fitting right back into his old life was forced and awkward. It tried to be sentimental but fell mostly flat. I knew we were in trouble when Adrian was going back to work at the old pet shop. There is a nice scene where Rocky is thinking about, and seeing his trainer Mickey. The street fight in the end was laughable, but was pretty good entertainment.
I appreciated it paying tribute to the Rocky legacy, while attempting to move forward at the same time. It came across a little “Creed 1” and a little “Rocky 7”. I was impressed with Michael B. Jordan as Adonis Johnson/Creed. Adonis jumps into Rocky’s life over night but the transition was smooth and believable. The older Balboa has become a nurturing character. It was difficult to see the champ struggle to walk up those iconic steps. I thought “Creed” was short of greatness, but still very good.
#6- “CREED 2”
This time I felt more attachment to Creed’s journey. We know the character now, and can feel his pain a bit. He was fighting a brutally tough opponent, and the ghosts of his father’s killer. Rocky sitting down with Ivan Drago was quite a moment. Creed’s wife leading them to the ring, singing a song was fire. I applaud them bringing back people from the first Creed. The fighting scenes from this series looked better forty years ago.
#5- “ROCKY BALBOA”
I was initially “worried” this movie was being made. How were they going to justify Rocky fighting at the highest level in the grandfather years? They pulled it off so well, I took “Rocky Balboa” as an apology for part five being made. This was an excellent show that put the perfect bow on the series. The film uses Adrian’s death as an opportunity to focus on life’s biggest heart aches and the resilience needed to survive. It brought the message of going the distance full circle.
#4- “ROCKY IV”
If an alien came down and only had time for one Rocky, I’d have him (or her) watch part four. Of the seven installments, this is the most exciting. Creed’s death, the daunting opponent, and being in another country gave Rocky IV a scary edge. The training scenes are diverse and the soundtrack was a good look into the 1980’s. It had an awesome memory scene as Balboa races around in his Lamborghini. America and Russia’s prominent roles in this major motion picture, combined with the message of peace, left an impact on society.
Part one was the award winner, and is taken the most serious. Like any first it deserves the credit for others being able to build on it. I’d say it’s a love story, about an underdog. It’s slow-paced and is character development art. Rocky is instantly likeable, and we are willing to follow his life. Adrian’s shyness, is a reminder of how much she evolves. Polly is charming, yet disgusting at the same time. The movie feels genuine, like the Philadelphia streets it takes place in.
#2- “ROCKY II”
“Do you have a criminal record Mr. Balboa?” “Nothing worth bragging about.”
I may not be ranking two as my favorite, but it may be the best. Fans struggle to admit, part two is a better version of part one. It’s an extension of the 1975 movie, with a better training scene, and much better main event. The audio and video (most evident during the boxing match) are superior as well. This movie feels like a comfortable blanket to me. The fight is the best of all seven pictures. None of this greatness happens without Burgess Meredith as Mickey. Carl Weathers is on point as Apollo Creed.
#1- “ROCKY III”
I’ll never forget seeing part three on the big screen with my parents. This movie picked up the pace. The opening scene with Survivors “Eye of the Tiger” was the tone setter to this eventful picture. Hulk Hogan as “Thunder lips” was quite a sight. Mr. T as Clubber Lang gave Rocky three a cool factor. Lang was mean, nasty, and barked with authority. He reminds us about the hunger it takes on the way up. Mickey dying was the powerful bridge in this movie. To heal the ailing audience, they had to pull off something special. Balboa being trained by his former rival Apollo, was the right medicine.
“I know your manager dying had you all messed up inside, but the truth is you didn’t look hungry. Now when we fought, you had the eye of the tiger man, the edge!”
Jay C. Brandriet