Rocky: Heavyweight Collection (2014)
Review by Jude Felton
Hang on a minute, another release of the Rocky movies? Yes indeed, my good friends, and it’s a damned good one. First off, there’s a brand new re-mastered version of Rocky, and there’s a decent selection of extras to accompany it. Plus, it’s Rocky, and that in itself should be enough.
When it comes to the Italian Stallion and his movies, the first things that come to mind, aside from Stallone himself, are usually his opponents (Clubber Lang, Apollo Creed and Ivan Drago etc.), the music (whether it be the score or soundtrack) and the fights themselves. That would be fair enough, as those are all iconic elements of this franchise. Hell, it’s an iconic franchise in itself, but there is so much more to Rocky.
Setting aside an entire day, I made my way through all six movies, one after another, and yes I felt like I had been in the ring with the big man. What became more than apparent, and something I had previously overlooked, is that just how strong the first film is. It’s full of rich characters, realistic situations and some truly great dialogue. And, it’s the dialogue and characters that remain throughout the franchise. Aside from Rocky, there’s our beloved Adrian, the pain in the ass that is Paulie, Apollo Creed, the unsung Duke and not forgetting the diamond in the rough that is Mickey, Rocky’s slightly opportunistic trainer, who in time becomes great friends with Rock.
The interaction between these characters, the development, the bond you’ll create with them, far overshadows the more outlandish elements of the series. Let’s face it, after the first two movies Rocky went into Super Villain territory, with Mr. T’s Clubber Lang and Dolph Lundgren’s Ivan Drago taking center stage. It was always the story of Rocky himself, and his journey through life that makes the series so damned enjoyable.
Even when we hit the franchise’s only real blip, Rocky V, which is by far the worst of the series, it still manages to add another element to the overall story. The fighters themselves become somewhat irrelevant, yet the backstory is solid enough to keep your attention.
With this Heavyweight Collection, you do get the aforementioned re-mastered version of Rocky, and truthfully it’s bloody good viewing. The film looks terrific and the sound will box your ears. It would have been nice to have this treatment afforded to all six films in the series, but I am sure we’ll see this one day in the future. Still, as it stands, this is an essential addition to fans new and old. Watching all six films was like revisiting a long lost friend, but at the same time discovering new things about them.
The Rocky films will never get old, even though the first one was release over 35 years ago! I’m also sure that in 35 years folk will still be watching these films.
Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend picking up this release. As a trip down memory lane it was a joy to revisit the films, but also to see them all on Blu-ray, for the first time (for me) was something else. Stallone is not often given the credit he deserves, as an actor, writer or director, but once you sit down and watch through the Rocky flicks you get a far greater appreciation; as he’s one talented, and tough, son of a gun. Top marks.
The Rocky Heavyweight Collection is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from MGM/20th Century Fox.