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  Publicity Stills of "Rocky Balboa"
(Courtesy from 20th Century Fox)

Genre: Drama
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Tony Burton, MiloVentimiglia, James Francis Kelly III
RunTime: 1 hr 42 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: PG (Some Violence)

Opening Day: 1 March 2007





Synopsis :

Sylvester Stallone is back as Rocky Balboa for the final round of the Academy Award ® winning franchise. His wife Adrian died of Cancer, and he and his son, Rocky Jr., have been growing apart. Rocky owns a restaurant, and people come in just to hear his boxing stories. But his quiet life changes when a TV sports channel presents a virtual boxing match between Rocky and the current boxing champion – Mason “The Line” Dixon – and reveals that Rocky would win. This virtual fight creates a media firestorm and Rocky is offered the opportunity to fight the current champion. With the help of his friend Paulie and his old trainer Duke, Rocky enters the ring for his final countdown, and in the process rids himself of the demons he has faced since his wife’s death.

Movie Review:

Sylvester Stallone is a perfect example of how people remember you for the wrong things you do, instead of focusing your comparably more positive aspects. So what if the old uncle was once nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his titular role in Rocky (1976)?

That was 31 years ago, for god’s sake.

Most of us would know Stallone for his multiple Razzie (an award which “dishonours” the worst achievements in the movie industry) “wins” and nominations, especially in the 1990s for dreadful movies like Stop! Or my Mom Will Shoot (1992) and The Specialist (1995).

Now we understand why the man who was also Rambo decided to stage a comeback with this sixth installment in the Rocky franchise, 17 years after Rocky V. And wow, what a dignified comeback it is.

There is not much of a story here really. You see how Rocky Balboa is leading a widower life, how he has a restrained relationship with his son, how he is coping with life by serving customers in his restaurant and taking pictures with them, and how he is eventually given the opportunity to return to the boxing ring to play the sport he loves.

The show clearly belongs to the 60-year-old actor, who also serves as the writer of this 102-minute movie. You just don’t see an old uncle pack some decent punches everyday.

For the nostalgic, this movie is great fun. From the familiar Bill Conti theme “Gonna Fly Now”, to the scene where the heavyweight champ trains and runs up the famous “Rocky Steps” to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the fitting finale featuring a gritty yet entertaining boxing match - fans will be cheering the movie on.

For the younger audience, this movie works as an inspirational sports drama where the protagonist goes through some hardships, some inner conflicts, some family drama, before triumphing victorious with the wondrous human spirit.

All these are possible with Stallone’s grounded performance. Never mind the obvious weariness in the actor’s eyes. Never mind the evident attempts by the filmmakers to make the character emote. In fact, this adds a personal touch to the otherwise clichéd movie, giving it the extra punch it needs.

The rest of the cast fares well too, supporting Rocky Balboa in every complementary way. There is Burt Young’s Paulie (his dead wife’s brother), who milks a few good laughs. There is Geraldine Hughes’ Marie (a girl who has crossed paths with him many years ago), who brings a nice touch of delicateness to the testosterone-charged movie. And of course there is Milo Ventimiglia’s Rocky Jr., a son whom he is very proud of.

There are also some smartly scripted dialogue in the movie (listen out for Paulie and Rocky’s humourous banters), some smart sequences (watch out for the computer-generated Rocky fighting his opponent in a simulated match) and some touching moments (especially those between father and son).

Yes, Rocky Balboa is back. And it is unmistakable that Stallone wants us to know that his showbiz career ain’t over ‘til it’s over.

Movie Rating:

"It doesn’t matter whether or not you are a Rocky fan – you’d applause Rocky’s (and probably Stallone’s) fighting spirit"

Review by John Li



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