My Love/Hate Relationship with Rocky
I love Rocky. Just thought I'd put that out there. But it's a real marmite kind of love. Some of it is just too ridiculous to look over but first up: the whole race thing.
The Rocky films have always had a racial undertone, but the first Rocky film really laid it out. They've got the brash champ (obviously based on Ali) and the hard working club fighter who finally shuts him up. Everyone canonises Ali these days but he was the Mayweather of his day to some. Just as many folks came to see him lose as to win. So Rocky basically played out to some as a racial fantasy film where the good, hardworking white fighter beats - morally in the first film, actually in the second - the jive-talking black champion.
Then there's the routines, all stolen from Joe Frazier. Punching slabs of meat? Frazier did that. Running up the steps? Frazier did that. Coming from Philly? Frazier's still there. And Frazier hasn't gotten a penny for all this inspiration. Meanwhile, Balboa has a statue in Philly and Frazier doesn't.
But back to the ridiculousness of Rocky. Firstly, there's his record. Before fighting Apollo Creed he had a record of, according to Wikipedia, 44 Wins (38 KO), 20 Losses and 1 draw. 20 Losses? 20 and he's still fighting? A man who's lost 20 times would have quit to be a nightclub bouncer long ago. But what makes this record so silly are the fight scenes.
Boxing has had it's fair share of wars (say hello to the Thrilla in Manilla and the Vasquez-Marquez series), but if boxing was like Rocky, it'd have been banned 50 years ago. You can count the amount of jabs in the entire series on one hand. It's haymakers from start to finish, with maybe an uppercut or a hook to even things out. Ivan Drago spends the fight with Apollo Creed cocking his right hand for nearly an entire round. That's not to mention the multiple knockdowns. The worst thing isn't that there's so many, it's just the seemingly career threatening knockdowns that Rocky repeatedly suffers. How many times have you seen a fighter in real life pirouette to the ground the way Rocky does? And this man has 20 losses on record? A more realistic Rocky Balboa would've shown Rocky struggling to walk and speak (although you might argue that Stallone already struggles). It might not have been the film folks were waiting for, but it sounds like an Oscar contender to me. And while I'm ranting, why didn't Rocky have a trilogy with Clubber Lang? They were 1-1, a trilogy should've been mandatory. Am I taking this too seriously? Possibly.
But my main problem with Rocky was that it made real boxing seem dull. Before I got into boxing again, I just thought it was non-stop hugging with a few punches thrown to stop crowds falling into a slumber. Of course, even the most exciting fights have at least 30 seconds of down time, something a Rocky film never had. But despite all this, I still watched Rocky Balboa. I thought it was shit, but I watched it nonetheless.