Thursday, December 24, 2015

Rocky 5 (A 25 Days of Shitmas Post) from Second Hand Terror's Chris Roberts

Rocky V

I am not macho. Not at all. But if my back is to the wall and I hear Eye of the Tiger or Bill Conti's Gonna Fly Now or even if someone in a crowd yells "Mickey Loves Ya!" I may very well fight my own mother. There is something about those musical cues that can turn me into a wreckin' machine ready to eat lightning and crap thunder. On the other hand, Rocky Balboa's story arc through six films (and to a certain extent Creed) gets me on an emotional level as well. I think I've cried more tears at the end of the Rocky movies than at the birth of my own children. But I'm not here to talk about the entire franchise or all of the times I got my ass kicked for yelling "One more round" in someone's face after one too many drinks. And you surely didn't come here to read about it. I'm here to talk about my love/hate relationship with easily one of the most universally hated sequels in history. No, not Mannequin 2: On the Move. I love that movie.

Not pictured:  Stallone's integrity

Released in 1990, Rocky V was written by Stallone only to make money (his words, not mine) and wound up being the only film in the franchise to lose money at the box office. Set weeks after the fourth installment, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) his wife Adrian (Talia Shire) and brother-in-law Paulie (Burt Young), receive a hero's welcome at the airport following Balboa's battle with Ivan Drago in Russia. They're greeted by their son Robert Jr. (the late Sage Stallone) who is now 13 years old, despite him being about eight when they left for Moscow. They hold a press conference which is interrupted by George Washington Duke (Richard Gant) an unapologetic Don King rip-off who somehow wired his way into the PA system because the man has a microphone for no reason. In addition to calling Rocky the "Champion of all the Americas and all of the Russias", he interrupts the press conference to invite Balboa to fight Union Cane, the newest contender for the Heavyweight Championship. At this time, Adrian announces her husband's retirement from professional boxing. Once they finally arrive home, Rocky shows Robert Jr. a magic trick. Because for some reason, Rocky likes pulling things from behind people's ears in this movie. And Robert Jr. likes his French teacher's tits. 

Robert Jr. is into ButterFaces
Rocky comes back downstairs to hear Paulie and Adrian fighting because the Balboa's lawyer got Paulie to have Rocky sign a power of attorney in the guise of a tax extension. While they were in Russia, the crooked lawyer screwed up some investments and cost them everything. When Rocky attempts to come out of retirement, Adrian begs him to see a doctor, only to discover that due to all of the constant blows to the head throughout his career, Rocky has suffered severe drain damage. So, unable to fight, they have to file for bankruptcy and auction off all of their belongings. Except for the clothes Rocky wore in the first movie. So after another magic trick with Adrian and her glasses, it's back to the same slums in Philadelphia. Sort of like a reverse Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. They move back into Paulie and Adrian's old house from the first movie and it slowly starts to become the original film again. Rocky walks out of the bar, smoking again (because apparently rich people wouldn't smoke), Adrian is working in the pet shop again and Rocky is back at Mickey's gym. Rocky visits the dilapidated gym in one scene and the next time we see it, it has a fresh coat of paint and a fresh crop of new boxers. Including Tommy "The Machine" Gunn (played by real life boxer Tommy Morrison). A down on his luck Florida native with a hunger to fight and a mullet that needs to be fed.

Look at it
While Rocky is training new recruits, Robert Jr. is having a rough time adjusting to his new inner city school. He got beaten up and had his coat taken from him. Funny how the son of a boxer was never taught how to throw a punch. Tommy joins the Balboas for dinner and shares a heart warming family story of being tied to a chair by his own father and beaten until he couldn't move. Good times. Rocky continues his track record as father of the year by giving up Robert Jr's bedroom to Tommy and pawning his son off to Paulie, who proceeds to ask his young nephew if he pisses the bed. It is unclear if they will be sharing the same bed. 

Not pictured:  Leaky plumbing
What follows is a montage that goes back and forth between Tommy moving up in the boxing ranks and Robert Jr. being trained by Paulie to beat up bullies. Robert Jr. gets his coat back and earns the respect of the bullies, winning them over and becoming one of them. He even gets a classy earring. Christmas Eve comes around and Paulie dresses like Santa and gets drunk in front of Robert Jr. and his friends (Yo Yo Yo). Robert Jr. and Rocky have it out and the kids leave just before Duke shows up with Tommy and tells Rocky that he is signing with Duke to get his shot at the championship title. Rocky begs him not to sign with Duke, telling him that he is just being used. Gunn drives off into the night and the sound of the tires squealing causes Rocky to have some kind of an episode and, before he passes out, Adrian helps him back into the house. But not before giving a passionate speech about how Rocky and Tommy cannot be like Mickey and Rocky were because Tommy doesn't have the heart that Balboa himself had. A few weeks later (or maybe years, these movies keep awful timelines), Tommy gets his title shot and destroys Union Cane to win the belt. At the press conference after the bout, the press claim that Cane was a "paper champion" and that Gunn fought an unworthy opponent. So Tommy decides to prove himself by going to Rocky's watering hole and knocking Paulie out. Beacuse as Rocky says "That's how winning is done". Tommy challenges Rocky to a true fight to which Rocky delivers the most bad ass line in cinema history:


They beat the hell out of each other for ten minutes in a street fight that was choreographed by one-time wrestling superstar Terry Funk. Complete with leg sweeps and power bombs. I guess Rocky learned a thing or two from Thunderlips in part three. What seems like the entire city of Philadelphia is just standing around watching this fight, even getting live local news coverage and George Washington Duke standing by to see how the whole thing plays out. I'm sure Duke would've tried to sell this as a Pay-Per-View if given half a chance. Around six minutes into the fight, Rocky takes a hit so hard that it causes another episode and we get a glimpse of some shots right out of a horror movie. Rocky reimagines the fight with Ivan Drago in which he dies. We see blood pouring down his face and a casket. Way too morbid for this movie. But before you can say "Mickey loves ya", Balboa stands up and finishes the fight. Balboa approaches Duke, who exclaims "touch me and I'll sue", only to have Rocky knock him into a parked car. Rocky responds "sue me for what?", probably forgetting that he still has a house, clothes and running water. Duke would most likely take air out of someone's lungs if given the opportunity. Only in America. But since Rocky is the hero, that doesn't happen. And Duke becomes a coroner in Ohio who gets possessed by the heart of Jason Voorhees. Seriously, it's the same guy from Jason Goes to Hell. I didn't know that until researching for this article.

In the final scene, we see Rocky and Robert Jr. running up the steps of the famous Philadelphia Museum of Art and they stop in front of Rocky's statue. They talk for a brief moment when Rocky decides to be a magician again. He pulls his necklace out from behind his son's ear and gives it to him. I didn't mention the necklace earlier because it really plays a minor role in the plot and also because this movie is terrible. But dammit, I love this movie. So as they walk towards the museum and the credits roll, we are treated to an Elton John song. Seriously, an original song made specifically for this movie by Academy and Tony Award winner Elton John. The entire soundtrack of this film has been 90s hip-hop, complete with a song by MC "I'll be broke in five years" Hammer. And then....Elton John? It isn't a bad song, it just surprises you. You know, the way herpes surprises you. This thing just shows up and ruins your night. I have a feeling Elton wants you to forget his song from this movie almost as badly as Sly wants you to forget this movie altogether.

Of course, part five was not the end for Stallone's boxing franchise. In 2006, he went back to the well with Rocky Balboa. Notice how he didn't call it Rocky VI. Because if he did, he'd be reminding you there was a fifth. This past Thanksgiving, the fans welcomed a reboot of the franchise called Creed, telling the story of Rocky training the illegitimate son of his deceased friend Apollo. Based on it's success, I think Rocky may have one more round in him after all.

A few years ago, Rocky V director John G. Avildsen released his director's cut online. The main differences are just some alternate cuts and some deleted scenes. A petition was created to be presented to MGM/UA to get the movie a DVD/BluRay release. It needed 100,000 signatures. It got 49. Had I known the petition existed, it probably would've had 50.

Now, I can't say for sure whether I love or hate this movie. It all honestly depends on the day. There are some insane leaps of faith you have to take with this one. Timeline issues, bad dialouge and a boxer who can no longer legitimately box. All those things aside, what I can tell you is that I've had more fun sitting around with my friends talking about this movie than actually watching it. I own them all on BluRay and this one at least gets more views than Rocky II. Ever notice in the first one how mad Rocky gets when someone tells him to take Adrian to a zoo because "retards love the zoo?". But then in the second one, Rocky proposes to her at the motherf--king zoo!?! I'm sorry, I promised I wouldn't speak about my problems with the remainder of the franchise. There is always next Shitmas. And I didn't hear no bell.......

- Chris Roberts
Second Hand Terror

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