Rocky V (1990)

Rocky V (1990)
  • Time: 104 min
  • Genre: Drama | Sport
  • Director: John G. Avildsen
  • Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Sage Stallone, Talia Shire


Rocky Balboa is forced to retire after having permanent damage inflicted on him in the ring by the Russian boxer Ivan Drago. Returning home after the Drago bout, Balboa discovers that the fortune that he had acquired as heavyweight champ has been stolen and lost on the stockmarket by his accountant. His boxing days over, Rocky begins to coach an up-and-coming fighter named Tommy Gunn. Rocky cannot compete, however, with the high salaraies and glittering prizes being offered to Gunn by other managers in town.

One comment

  • It is already well known that when a popular franchise starts making sequels well after the first trilogy, there better be something for new audiences and fans a like to enjoy. Although most producers do have this in mind, there’s always that group that don’t and make rehash after rehash after rehash of the same film. This has been seen in dozens of film series, some of which have pulled themselves out of mindless entertainment to crowd-flocking blockbusters and others from once respected initiators to abysmal box office bombs. The unfortunate thing is, most head down the wrong path. As for Sylvester Stallone’s first entry into Hollywood with Rocky (1976), it struck such a memorable chord that Stallone ended up exploiting his fictional counterpart for a decade and then some. Sadly for many, if not all fans of this boxing franchise have found this entry to be the least enjoyable. Of which they are right but it certainly isn’t garbage like some have said including Stallone himself shockingly.

    For what it’s worth, although it does have a couple more problems than Rocky III (1982) and Rocky IV (1985), this fifth entry isn’t simply a rehash in plot like the last two films. After returning home from his fight with Drago in Russia, Rocky and family head home only to realize they lose everything when they discover Paulie (Burt Young) lent all of the Balboa savings to a shady accountant that ended up committing fraud on their behalf. Having to sell majority of their possessions to have cash on hand, the Balboa family moves back to Philadelphia hoping to start a new. There, Rocky reopens Mickey’s (Burgess Meredith) boxing hall but is continuously followed and harassed by George Washington Duke (Richard Grant) who is looking to get him back into the ring to make one more check of big money. However Adrian (Talia Shire) disagrees because after visiting the doctor it seems as if Rocky has irreversible brain damage that could get worse if he continues to fight.

    Trying to stay out of the ring, Rocky discovers a boxer named Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison) who he ends up taking under his wing. The writing, which was penned again by Sylvester Stallone although a little cluttered, at least has things to discuss. Unlike Rocky III (1982) and Rocky IV (1985), which were very straight cut and predictable this time there’s things to think about. For those who are tired of the usual Rocky formula that consisted of “promising to step down, but then is challenged by losing a friend and reclaims respect”, this film goes a different direction. The direction by John G. Avildsen (the same director of Rocky (1976)) here is more family oriented, which to be honest is what made Rocky (1976) so compelling. Sure the sports aspect was fun too but it was the human storytelling that worked best. The concept of having Rocky deal with a less publicized life and starting back where he came from is fine. The problems start when Rocky begins focusing more on Tommy Gunn than his own son played by Sage Stallone. Of course events like these do happen in real life but these kinds of moments aren’t the changes fans want to see in the main protagonist. It’s careless and makes Rocky look like a clueless father.

    Even with this though because the original human characters are of more importance, it is better to see a different focus. Although there have been plenty of persistent antagonists before that Rocky has come up against, Richard Grant is by far the man who chews up the most scenery in the series. This man has one the most hammiest performances; talking extremely fast without stopping and continuously showing his teeth to the camera. He isn’t a likable character but he is fun to watch. The Tommy Gunn character is fleshed out but unfortunately turns from sympathetic to unsympathetic over time. Here’s what’s going to turn off people for those who enjoyed the first four films. The biggest change audiences will see is the amount of boxing involved. Believe it or not there are scenes that have boxing in it – but none of them involve Rocky in the ring. The matches still entertain and pack enough energy to keep it lively but of course for anyone looking to see Rocky fight, will be disappointed either way.

    Another disappointment belongs to the director of photography. Instead of long time camera operator Bill Butler shooting for the production, this time Steven Poster took over. For Poster’s work it’s not that it was unwatchable or unsteady but it did not have the same feel as Butler’s. For the last four films, Bill Butler’s work contains numerous wide shots of urban and rural terrain and also concentrated on what was of importance for each installment. Here, Poster just feels like he’s shooting because it’s his job. There’s no aspect to his shots that feel noteworthy of mentioning. Finally, the biggest blow was the music composed by returning veteran Bill Conti who scored every entry except Rocky IV (1985). Conti doesn’t change anything, which is good but at the same time doesn’t add anything other than updating the themes a tad by adding in a saxophone. Every other track feels like a cut and paste of other tracks Conti had composed from the other films. That’s not to say they don’t work but each entry should get some kind of an addition.

    Its direction is focused on the human characters more than the spectacle of the sport and although all threads don’t head down the right path, they at least develop the original characters differently. Also Richard Grant as the antagonist is one hammy actor. But for those who are looking for the engaging boxing matches with Rocky involved, they will be ripped off. That and the music and cinematography are nothing special to mention either this time.

    Points Earned –> 5:10

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *