Like the games and athletes that spark them into being, the best sports films can captivate and inspire, but few have had the impact that the Rocky franchise has, and none have stood tall in the ring for this long. Sylvester Stallone’s simple story about a simple fighter, a simple love, and the fight to keep defying the odds has carried our attention for six films, and the franchise is set to come full circle on Thanksgiving when Creed, the seventh “Rocky” story, comes around to tell us about another young warrior, striving to push off those who say he can’t be a champion. In honor of that film and the franchise, we polled the Uproxx staff to get their favorite moments from the series, so with that…
Let’s get started.
It has to be Rocky III. You have Clubber Lang, the toughest dude Rocky ever fought… with maybe the best nickname ever for a boxer. Mick’s passing. The Apollo/Rocky friendship. And yet another chapter ripped from the life of Chuck Wepner, the charity match with Hulk Hogan as Thunderlips, “the ultimate male.” And the training montage? Epic. And by God, it gave us the best workout song ever, “Eye of the Tiger.”
They are all bad, Jameson.
I have never seen a Rocky movie, but I bet they’re all equally great.
I hate to be that guy in this situation, but really the only one worth a damn is the original. There’s a reason it launched Stallone’s career and got him two Oscar nominations.
My favorite Rocky is Rocky IV, which feels a little cliché to say here in 2015, but I do not care. Everything about it is basically perfect. I mean, it is a movie that starts with Rocky owning a talking robot and ends with him thawing the Cold War with a Christmas Day boxing match in Russia against a giant blonde superhuman who punched his best friend to death. Find me one flaw there.
Mask. Rocky Dennis, man. So inspiring.
Clubber Lang is one of the all-time greatest loudmouth villains, Apollo Creed deserved a better fate than he got, and it’s a shame we never really got more of Carl Weathers in that role, and Ivan Drago is a wall of horse-steroid infused muscle and pain and intimidation, but Tommy Gunn is the one that broke Rocky’s heart in Rocky V. That fight outside the bar with Tommy (Tommy Morrison) is some Shakespearean sh*t as Rocky’s pupil and near second son tries to take him down after being poisoned (not literally) by a man in (what I hazily remember as) a full-length wolf fur coat because metaphors are amazing. And then the old guy wins! And as I get older, I really like when that happens, because young punks need to recognize sometimes.
Rocky is the best Rocky, obviously, but Rocky IV is the one my brain picks. They’re like, “So hey, we’ve got this story about an everyman who worked hard and believed in himself against all odds and shocked the world. Where should we go with it? Why not have him fight an enormous Soviet dude who trains underwater and might also be a robot? Let’s have the enormous Soviet dude KILL THE GUY FROM THE FIRST MOVIE. James Brown should be in it. IT SHOULD HAVE ROBOTS.” The only way it could’ve been better is if James Brown had boxed the robot. I love it.
So, what’s the best film in the franchise?