The Rocky films - Best to Worstby gyrmog | created - 09 Oct 2011 | updated - 28 Oct 2011 | Public
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1. Rocky (1976)
PG | 120 min | Drama, Sport
Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer, gets a supremely rare chance to fight heavy-weight champion Apollo Creed in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.
Votes: 434,748 | Gross: $117.24M
The finest sports movie ever made, case closed, (yes, counting "Raging Bull"). The original is superior to all its sequels because it is just that; original. This is a story about heart, guts and a fire within, but most of all it's about love. And Butkus, of course.
Doesn't sound original, you say? "Well, I wanna know how come!"
2. Rocky II (1979)
PG | 119 min | Drama, Sport
Rocky struggles in family life after his bout with Apollo Creed, while the embarrassed champ insistently goads him to accept a challenge for a rematch.
Votes: 157,532 | Gross: $6.39M
"Rocky II" is, narrowly, the best of the Rocky-sequels. While the first movie didn't really need one to begin with, this is about as close the producers could come to the optimal boxing sequel. As the original, it resists cheese and gloss, and it delights.
It is one of only two of the sequels that retain the low-life charm, (you'll find out which is the other one) that keyed setting and most of the supporting cast from the first. Actually, the franchise could have stopped here.
"Rocky II" also features the coolest opening credits in the entire series; a real stylish ambulance drive through Philly.
3. Rocky Balboa (2006)
PG | 102 min | Drama, Sport
Thirty years after the ring of the first bell, Rocky Balboa comes out of retirement and dons his gloves for his final fight; against the reigning heavyweight champ Mason 'The Line' Dixon.
Votes: 178,447 | Gross: $70.27M
For a series that hadn't had a real heart warming movie since 1979, it was about time Mr. Stallone finally succeeded in making a great Rocky film again. "Rocky Balboa", long overdue, regains the texture, depth and emotionality this series strived and dominated with. Indeed, the original "Rocky" won its Oscar for Best Picture simply because it is such a great underdog- and love story.
In those terms, it would be fair to compare this film to the 70s installments of the series, those two that had remained the most involving by far. "Rocky III", while a lot of fun, was really just a good cartoon. "Rocky IV" was a bad cartoon, while "Rocky V" tried somewhat to regain the aforementioned, important aspects the series had started off with. But it failed doing so.
It is such a pleasure then, that "Rocky Balboa" makes up for it, and it makes sure the top three on this list is a long shot ahead of the bottom three, (although "Rocky III" is considerably better than Rocky "IV" and "V").
Digression aside, "Rocky II" is a fraction stronger than this one, due to its presence of Adrian and Mickey, that is, but "Rocky Balboa" really is the best ending this series could hope for. Hey yo, that's the way it is.
4. Rocky III (1982)
PG | 99 min | Drama, Sport
After winning the ultimate title and being the world champion, Rocky falls into a hole and finds himself picked up by a former enemy.
Votes: 142,116 | Gross: $125.05M
Most film series have one entry that has become a cult film. As for the Rocky-series, "Rocky III" is that film, probably the most popular one besides the original. Here Rocky has entered the 80s, and as you'd expect from that decade, it shows.
"Rocky III" abandons the series' prominent focus on love, and starts paying more attention to Rocky's opponents, (in this case Clubber Lang, sucka.) This shallows it compared to the first two, making the film a cashcow rather than a critics fave.
But what makes it considerably better than the two below is the presence of some great, memorable single-scenes. The film also has a killer soundtrack, providing Rocky his "Eye of the Tiger".
5. Rocky V (1990)
PG-13 | 104 min | Drama, Sport
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.
Votes: 105,744 | Gross: $40.95M
"Rocky V", while definitely not on par with the top three, has gotten some unfair treatment over the years. It disposed of the corny beat-him-up transit of its two predecessors and returned to the charming Philadelphia guy we all knew and loved.
However, the movie has its flaws, and while the final fight is pretty cool, it didn't fit this series. But now that we know this wasn't the last one, "Rocky V" can be viewed in a more favorable light. And don't forget Rocky's fabulous, and so fitting, final lines.
6. Rocky IV (1985)
PG | 91 min | Drama, Sport
After iron man Drago, a highly intimidating 6-foot-5, 261-pound Soviet athlete, kills Apollo Creed in an exhibition match, Rocky comes to the heart of Russia for 15 pile-driving boxing rounds of revenge.
Votes: 153,690 | Gross: $127.87M
"Rocky IV" isn't really a Rocky film, but a linear sports movie with thematics run dry. It is the worst one in the series, and here's why. The Rocky-character is barely recognizable from the first two, and the formula had changed from loving charm to fighting bigger and bigger opponents.
Many of the other elements as well, such as engaging dialogue, had been discarded with cartoonish muscles and ugly stares, backed by far too many predictable cliches. And, the horror, Bill Conti's tunes have been replaced with crappy, dated 80s pop.
On a good note, Ivan Drago remains a cold beast, and the "War Fanfare" theme doesn't do the rest of the soundtrack justice. Also, Drago saying Rocky is "made of iron" is priceless.