Rocky V (1990)
September 29, 2014 9:32 AM - Subscribe

Reluctantly retired from boxing and back from riches to rags, Rocky takes on a new protege who betrays him; As the champ's son must adjust to his family's new life after bankruptcy.

Widely considered the low point of the Rocky franchise (scoring a mere 26% on Rotten Tomatoes), the Balboas return to their old Philadelphia neighborhood after Rocky learns he suffered brain damage in the fight with Drago and that a corrupt accountant has stolen their money.

At Mickey's Gym, Rocky starts to train a new fighter while his son learns to deal with his tougher, more streetwise peers.

In the original plans for the film, Rocky was supposed to die at the end - but the studio said Oh by the way Rocky’s not going to die. Batman doesn’t die, Superman, James Bond, these people don’t die...."So Rocky didn't die, but the movie died because that was the point of the movie."

Tommy Morrison, who played Rocky's protege Tommy Gunn, defeated George Foreman in 1993 for the vacant WBO Heavyweight Championship (see the fight here) and would die in 2013, likely from complications related to HIV.

Grantland discusses Tommy Morrison and the legacy of Rocky V.

A few reviews:
The Deseret News: Even Stallone seems to be sleepier than usual here.
The Washington Post: It seems silly wasting money on actors when the same could be achieved with Muppets.
The New York Times: "Rocky V," in the spirit of post-1980's revisionism, cannily asks its audience to forget the rich, spoiled blowhard and resume its acquaintance with the ordinary Joe.

"I'll never leave you" - The Mickey flashback
"Come and get it" - The street fight
posted by nubs (3 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I find myself almost desperate to not watch this movie again (and I liked all of the other ones, though II was a pretty soft like). Damn you, nubs and my completionist tendencies.
posted by Etrigan at 1:03 PM on September 29, 2014

I wasn't looking forward to it myself. It's actually not that bad; it's a very sloppy film and everyone is kinda going through the motions, but there is an attempt here to get at the core of Rocky again. It fails, but I think that is in large part because Rocky doesn't die - if he had died in the end, I think it would've been remembered quite fondly. There are so many beats that point towards it being the final days for Rocky, and then he wins and there's a triumphant surge in the music and everything is happy again.
posted by nubs at 1:20 PM on September 29, 2014

I think the problem was that Stallone wasn't in the headspace at this point in his career to write a 'back to basics' Rocky. His ego was still inflated from all of his max-volume, subtlety-be-damned successes of the 80s, so you have a movie that's trying to be low-key and pumped-up at the same time. It just doesn't work.

Give him another fifteen years of career reversals (and aging), and you get Rocky Balboa. And that's a much better coda to the whole Rocky saga.

Incidentally, you could argue that Rocky Balboa makes Rocky V non-canonical. There's no way they'd let him step back into the ring if he'd actually been diagnosed with brain damage. You could also argue that it wipes out Rocky III and Rocky IV as well, which is fine by me. It was always difficult to buy that the nearly-illiterate guy from the first two movies could become the blow-dried Hugo Boss-wearing mannequin hawking American Express cards in Rocky III.

That makes Rocky into a trilogy -- with a truly great first movie, and a couple of decent follow-ups. Plus a couple of spinoff Saturday-morning-cereal movies that are bull-goose bonkers. And one that everybody wanted to forget, and did, which is this one.
posted by workingdankoch at 3:00 PM on September 29, 2014

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