Monday, 31 December 2007

Why Rocky is Such a Great Film

In about thirty minutes, what I regard as one of the best films of all time will be shown for the umpteenth time on BBC1. The film in question is Rocky.

Why is this film so special to me? For me, it's the classic case of the underdog, fighting against overwhelming odds, as he bids to become the heavyweight champion of the world, and putting on one hell of a fight, and almost getting the job done.

A lot of people criticise Sylvester Stallone for his acting ability, but when you take a close look at what the guy has done in his career, it makes for pretty impressive reading, especially when you consider Rocky. Rocky was the film that made his name. If Stallone was a dumb as he sounded, would he have been able to develop and write the story that was such a success? Dummies don't become great writers overnight. Stallone knew what he was doing, and he did it well, damn well.

The story of the first film is quite a simple one. Apollo Creed, champion of the world, decides to give a local Philadelphia fighter his five minutes of fame, thinking that by giving a bum, a useless fighter at shot at the title, he would be in for an easy night. Rocky Balboa goes on to prove he is far more than an easy touch, and comes within seconds of winning the title in a bout that sees both men hospitalised.

For me, Rocky was, and always will be, Stallone's best film in terms of acting ability. He won't go down in history as the best actor in the world, and probably won't win any Oscars for his efforts. Rocky was tailor-made for Stallone as an actor. The part fit him as well as the proverbial boxing glove.

As for the rest of the Rocky films, for me, they kind of lost their lustre with Rocky III, although if you consider them on their own merits, Rocky III, IV and V are not bad.

Of course, special mention must go to two men here. Burgess Meredith's performance as Mickey in the first three films was excellent, and showed that he was one of the finest actors of his generation. And, of course, Rocky III introduced a certain Hulk Hogan to the world at large. The story behind Hogan's appearance in this film, and how it almost cost his wrestling career dearly, is a story for another time.

So if you're reading this and the original Rocky film is about to play on a television station near you, grab a few beers and a bag or two of some heavily-salted snack, and park yourself in frontof the old tube. Rocky is one of the all-time greats. Go take a look.