“i was bored.” “i had nothing better to do.” “i’ve seen the other five so i figured i may as well.” “i was in the neighborhood.” all are good, and true, excuses for why i watched this film. sly stone talks like a retard and is in a lot of shitty movies. there, that’s out of the way. the truth, though, is that he’s a relatively smart guy. he paints, and he’s written and directed some decent pictures. say what you will about judge dread, the original rocky and rambo films are good. in other words, i consider myself relatively able to judge this film on its own merits.
the film is essentially a synthesis of two things: the “american spirit” and the true story of george foreman’s inspired coming out of retirement in his mid-late 40s. i think a popular reaction to hearing about the new rocky is “the guy’s like 60 years old, there’s no way he can be a boxer.” true, sly turned 60 this year and that would make his pretty damn old for a professional boxer. a few things about that: foreman came back and won the heavyweight championship in his late 40s, rocky is in his 50s in the film, satchel paige pitched a couple hitless innings in his 60s, it’s a movie.
the outcome in the film is the same as it was when george foreman faced evander holyfield (one of the greats of our generation) in the early 90s. if you’re able to get past it being a sylvester stallone film and him being a really old fighter, then the film isn’t half bad. there are some quality lines for rocky, and his character is a real salt of the earth kinda guy. he embodies a horatio alger spirit and, partly because of his simplicity, does so without being too corny. this is contrasted with a flashy young fighter who doesn’t feel like he’s gotten enough respect. there’s a clear message here about hard work, humility, fighting on despite adversity, etc. what’s less clear is the race issue. is there some commentary on the young black athlete or am i reading too much into it? 1) the fighter he’s facing is black, rocky is white 2) the fighter symbolizes the stereotypical black athlete – bling bling, lots of cars, doesn’t feel he gets enough respect, etc. and rocky works hard and represents the middle class in spite of his fame 3) in the film rocky’s opponent is referred to as: mason “the line” dixon. that last one is the thing that really calls attention to race. the mason-dixon line, of course, is the line which once marked slave/free territories. presumably that’s intentional on the part of stallone, and serves some purpose beyond being just another creative boxer name. remember, too, that rocky is called the “italian stallion.” there’s also the fact that rocky befriends a woman with a bi-racial son. when rocky first sees him he’s with a white kid and he assumes the white kid is her son. she says that it’s the other one and then she says that his father was jamaican (philly has the second largest jamaican population in the u.s.) and rocky says “oh, he was european, cool.” har har. so, i don’t really know what to make of it, but the race issue is there.
the film is a bit longish for the plot and it uses a little too much footage from the previous films.Watched in theater