Worst To First: Ranking the Rocky Movies
Today is the opening day for Creed, a spin-off from the long-running Rocky franchise in which Sylvester Stallone plays Rocky Balboa for the seventh time. That’s a lot of “Yo Adrians!” As the Italian Stallion passes the baton to the next generation, I’m going to rank the Rockies from worst to first. And of course readers will get a chance to do the same.
6. Rocky V (1990)
Summary: Rocky returns to his roots. That’s the idea anyway. Having had the biggest fight of his life in Rocky IV, the champ returns to the good ol’ US of A. After having it easy for the last couple of movies, Rocky’s luck takes a turn for the worse. All of those punches to the head have left him with brain damage and his accountant has stolen his money. So Rocky takes his family back to their old neighborhood in Philly. Since his career as a fighter is over, Rocky begins training a punk kid named Tommy Gunn (played by real-life fighter Tommy Morrison).
What’s Good: The idea of returning Rocky to his roots is a good one. The wealthy superhero of Rockies III and IV was no loner an “everyman”. Rocky V went to great lengths to try to recapture what made the first film work including bringing back director John G. Avildsen. Several bit players from previous movies came back for cameos and even though he died in Rocky III, Burgess Meredith returned as well. Done right, this could have been a mixture of Rocky Balboa and Creed.
What’s Bad: Unfortunately, not much about this sequel works. It’s a major bummer to see Rocky reduced so low so quickly. We want to see Rocky struggling against impossible odds. Instead, he ends up in a street brawl with his protege and squabbling with his kid (who was nine in the last film but is a teen in this one despite the fact it takes place only a few days after Rocky IV.)
Verdict: Originally, the plan was for Rocky to die in that street brawl at the end. The studio pleaded with Stallone to reconsider. If Rocky V was a hit, they were going to want Rocky VI. Eventually, Stallone decided that having his alter ego die in the streets was not in the spirit of the Rocky series, so he agreed to let the Italian Stallion live on. As it turns out, the movie was a critical and commercial disappointment that seemed to kill the franchise.
Next: 5th Place