Apparently, most people concur that Rocky V is the worst film in the series. I completely disagree! I see Rocky I and II as one movie; V and Rocky Balboa as its sequel. III and IV are the more “boring” ones compared to the rest because the plotlines are pretty much identical—a villainized opponent wants to destroy Rocky and become the next heavyweight champion. Rocky once again finds himself forced out of retirement and trains extensively to fight for his dignity, predictably winning the match. (Although parts III and IV are my least favorite, I still found them entertaining so I’m not dissing them completely.)
I do agree that Rocky V isn’t in alignment with II through IV—because the plot has moved on. It’s hard to believe that an aging boxer can yet again reclaim his title with the same, tired-out plot, so this time, it’s an entirely new angle. The movie is less focused on the boxing circuit and now centers around family drama: the Balboas’ eviction, Rocky’s rocky (lol sorry) relationship with his son, and the evil dumbass Tommy Gunn.
What an asshole. (source)
I suppose if you’re expecting a “typical” Rocky movie, that storyline would be mighty disappointing, but I would have been more disappointed if the plot was similar to the previous movies. Plus, I felt like Rocky V really brought back the heart and emotions that were felt in Rocky I, and not just through flashbacks. It was sweet seeing Adrian move back to the pet shop to be closer to Rocky, and since the family is back to their original roots, their drama was more believable and relatable. As Adrian said to George Washington Duke, “We’re living like human beings. You should try it sometime.”
Tommy Gunn was the first true villain I’ve seen in the series. Apollo Creed had that potential in Rocky II, but his main intent was just to reclaim his title, and the worst he did was call Rocky some bad names. Same with Clubber Lang, who I found to be the weakest and most boring of the “villains.” Drago ends up redeeming himself at the end of Rocky IV and we learn that he’s not evil at all, just misunderstood.
But Tommy! He completely swindles Rocky and breaks his heart, almost sabotages Rocky’s relationship with his son (though I can’t really blame him on that one, it just came with the territory). Rocky trains him and treats him like family, and then Tommy stabs him in the back for fame and glory, AND THEN he wants to beat the living shit out of Rocky because he fucking felt like it! What a fucking dick!
It was also nice to see Rocky and his son interact, making Rocky V a good prequel to Rocky Balboa.
Rocky and son Robert Balboa, played by Sylvester Stallone’s IRL son, Sage, who passed away last year. (source)
Rocky V didn’t feel like a break in the series at all but a timely way to progress the story. While it definitely didn’t have the same key ingredients as the previous movies, it was full of heart and allowed Rocky Balboa to end the series with the final fight in the ring.
I finally finished the entire Rocky series and it’s been amazing! I’ve lost the eye of the tiger over the last two weeks in my muay thai class so my drive has been renewed watching Rocky train and be awesome. He’s the best dad I never had.