The Rocky franchise is one of the longest running and most popular series of all time. It’s one of my personal favorites and with the release of Creed II, I thought I’d give my ranking.
- Rocky V
The embarrassment in the Rocky franchise is obviously Rocky V. Coming off of the epic spectacle of Rocky IV, this movie really feels like it’s going backward. Rocky moves back to the area he lived in the first Rocky. After four movies of Rocky becoming more successful and respected, he’s back to being a wash-up. The problems in this movie are very obvious mistakes: his son is made into an annoying brat, they address the dark side of boxing which I don’t want to see in a Rocky movie, and there are barely any exciting moments that we crave in the Rocky series.
- Creed II
When I saw the trailer for this movie, I thought to myself that it was kind of cheap to just make the opponent the Russian’s son from the fourth movie. Nevertheless, I was excited to see how it would turn out. The movie was pretty good, but it made me realize how repetitive this series is. I’m a little tired of the formula of pretty much every one of these movies: the mentor and pretty much everyone in their life doesn’t want the main character to take the fight, the main character feels like he owes it to himself to take the fight, and he takes the fight. I felt bored for many parts of this movie. It had a nice ending and it’s nowhere near the disaster of Rocky V. However, I found the film very predictable.
I really enjoy this movie. I think Adonis Creed is a good enough character to carry his own movie. But he shines best when he’s interacting with Rocky. The mentor/apprentice relationship is very well done. When Rocky isn’t on screen, I’m not very interested. I also didn’t like the relationship with the love interest. She seemed pretty generic and shoved in there just so we can have a love interest. Another problem with the movie is it’s almost the exact same plot as the first Rocky. The movie is definitely worth seeing but I’d suggest fast forwarding any part with the love interest.
- Rocky IV
Rocky IV is the definition of dumb fun. It’s pretty much the exact opposite of the last movie I talked about, Creed. Creed is a well-made smart film that often doesn’t catch your interest. Rocky IV is a ridiculous over-the-top blockbuster with way fewer times where you’re bored. One of the few aspects of the movie that clearly makes sense is Rocky’s motivation to fight Drago. He should’ve been in the ring with the Russian the first time, but instead it was Apollo Creed and he died because of it. I really felt Rocky’s need to take the fight. Now let’s get into the ridiculousness. Drago is so invincible he seems almost cartoonish. The training montages are over the top and amazing to watch. When Rocky arrives to the fight in Russia, the crowd is understandably booing him. By the end of the fight, the Russians are all cheering for Rocky. When’s the last time you went to a Penguins/Capitals in Pittsburgh and when the Caps took the lead, the Pittsburgh fans began cheering for Washington? The movie also tries to add this insane message that Rocky could end the Cold War. This is a very entertaining movie if you can suspend your disbelief.
- Rocky Balboa
Rocky Balboa was a great movie to end the Rocky film series. It felt a lot like the original, which I liked. All the characters and moments in the movie serve a purpose. Rocky’s age poses many challenges that the other movies didn’t have, so you really do see him as the underdog. It shows how well the character of Rocky has changed and become wiser throughout his life. It’s just a well-made, sweet movie that was needed to redeem the franchise after Rocky V.
- Rocky III
Rocky III has so many great moments. It’s hard to pick out anything I don’t like in it, because I pretty much like it all. Mickey’s death was very powerful and I enjoyed his speech to Rocky about how he’s become civilized. Clubber Lang, played by Mr. T, was a fantastic opponent to have. He was a loud-mouth jerk that you wanted to see Rocky beat. I love the contrast between how Rocky is training for the first fight with Clubber Lang and and how Lang is training. Rocky has been the champion for so long he’s lost his passion for fighting and it’s more materialistic. Clubber Lang trains traditionally and hardcore. This is why Lang defeats Rocky in their first fight. Then, I really enjoy Rocky’s training with Apollo Creed for his second fight with Clubber Lang. Finally the last fight is well done and the ending with Rocky’s favor to Creed is great.
- Rocky II
This is such a great sequel to the original. This is still before Rocky was cheesy in any way. This movie is just Rocky realizing he was born a fighter and the sad fact that that’s all he can really do. It’s also about him realizing Adrian and his son are more important to him than anything, including boxing. Each character grows and develops. Apollo Creed feels a sense of shame and a need to redeem himself by fighting Rocky again. Mickey begins to realize there’s more to life than boxing, and he needs to care for Rocky while Adrian is in her coma. Now that they’re married, Adrian is against Rocky fighting but she slowly realizes that’s who he is. When Adrian says the word “win” to Rocky, the movie is extremely exciting. The climax is fantastic and the movie as a whole is really great.
The first Rocky has to take the No. 1 spot, not only because it started it all, but also it’s a nearly perfect movie. Rocky is one of the best characters of all time. He has a lot of charisma and he’s very likable. This is probably the best underdog story in movie history. The love story is very well done and his relationship and dialogue with every other character is fantastic. Each scene is meaningful. I haven’t talked about the music in this series yet because I wanted to save it for the first Rocky. This movie introduced the phenomenal Rocky theme. It also introduced the world to so many iconic moments that still resonate in our minds like Rocky running up the steps, drinking raw eggs, the “Adrian!” line, and many more. The ending is one of my favorite climaxes of all time. The story slowly builds to it and it feels so good when Rocky goes the distance with Apollo Creed. I would definitely recommend this fantastic movie to everyone.