There are certain films which you assume you’ve seen. Rocky was one of these films. I could have sworn that I saw it as a kid but having watched it today, I’m now pretty sure that I’ve never seen it before. The film is so ingrained in popular culture that I knew the central characters and story well and recognised a lot of the iconic music and set piece scenes. I watched Rocky as part of my pledge to watch every Best Picture winning film but had been putting it off for a while. I don’t like boxing and I have no affinity for Sylvester Stallone either. The prospect of Sly and boxing plus memories of the bits of Rocky movies I had seen didn’t have me rushing to seek it out. Before watching I kept thinking to myself, “How on Earth did a film about boxing, written by and starring Sylvester Stallone win Best Picture at the Oscars?” Now I’ve seen it I can understand its appeal and enjoyed it quite a lot.
Rocky is a classic rags to riches story of a down and out semi-pro boxer/loan collector who is considered a bum by most of the neighbourhood. Early on it is made clear that Rocky ‘the Italian Stallion’ Balboa (Stallone) had talent but a lack of discipline and fell into the trappings of the mean streets of his home town of Philadelphia. Heavy Weight Champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) decides his next fight will be in Philly to celebrate America’s Bicentennial. When his opponent drops out he looks for a replacement and decides to invite a local boxer to challenge him for the title. That challenger is the seemingly down and out Rocky.