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by Jay Scott
INT. BLUE DOOR FIGHT CLUB - NIGHT
SUPERIMPOSE OVER ACTION... "NOVEMBER 12, 1975 - PHILADELPHIA"
... The club itself resembles a large unemptied trash-can. The boxing ring is extra small to insure constant battle. The lights overhead have barely enough wattage to see who is
In the ring are two heavyweights, one white, the other black. The white fighter is ROCKY BALBOA. He is thirty years old. His face is scarred and thick around the nose... His black hair shines and hangs in his eyes. Rocky fights in a plodding, machine-like style. The BLACK FIGHTER dances and bangs combinations into Rocky's face with great accuracy. But the punches do not even cause Rocky to blink... He grins at his opponent and keeps grinding ahead.
The people at ringside sit on folding chairs and clamor for blood... They lean out of their seats and heckle the fighters. In the thick smoke they resemble spectres. Everyone is
The BELL RINGS and the fighters return to their corner... Somebody heaves a beer can into the ring.
And that’s how it started. That’s the opening of the greatest underdog story of our time. That’s how the film “Rocky” opens. Along with that amazing theme music from Bill Conti, that inspires anyone who listens. It's all there. A hero we root for, someone who we can really take one of the greatest personal journeys ever made with. I mean, we get to be there for it.
In 1977 “Rocky” won best picture at the Oscars. It won numerous others including Best Editing, and Best Director. And guess what? Sylvester Stallone wrote it. He wrote all the Rocky films, and directed the 2nd one til the end. Did you know he's one of only three people to EVER get nominated for best actor and writer? The others were Charlie Chaplin and Orson Wells. Kinda makes you think, don’t it? Don’t judge Stallone over the zillions of action movies he was in, judge him on what HE wrote and directed.
Now I recently went to see “Rocky Balboa” because I am a fan of these films. Well, I, II, II and the current one. It's no small feat for Stallone to have created and guided one of the best franchises in film history. Sure, Stallone's Jar-Jar Binks was Dolph Lungren with the “I must break you” and whatever.
In the end, Stallone puts the perfect ending together. Let us not forget, it was Stallone who created this, Stallone who gave us Mr. T in the form of Clubber Lang, gave us Mickey and Adrian and the great Apollo Creed and his trainer and corner man, Duke, who becomes Rocky’s trainer when Apollo gets him to find “The Eye of the Tiger.” Stallone, well, he was the underdog in real life. He wrote it and when everyone wanted to buy it, he turned down a lot of money to stand by his one true goal. He wanted to play the title role. Stallone held out and the studio gave in. And we got the perfect Rocky Balboa.
I must insist that everyone go see this final film. Its, well truthfully, it's a lot like the first film. Just like Rocky himself, it's all heart. There are some very touching moments in this film, and Stallone delivers. Big time. He goes back to the Rocky we first met, the one we all know and root for no matter what. He takes us to the end of this old prize fighter's journey, and does it with dignity. Its poetic. I’m not going to write reviews and breakdowns of all the films, I am going to just suggest that you pick up the box set and watch them. All the way through over a week. It's pretty amazing. After all, it's like a time machine. I love watching the story unfold about this guy from Philly who gets a shot, and takes it. You just can't beat Rocky; try as they do, you can't beat a guy whose heart is in it. I love that theme, that life lesson.
So, if you haven’t, see the last installment. Then see the rest again. It will not disappoint you, I promise.
A-Yo, Rock. You did it.
Jay taught Clubber Lang to say "Pain" and "I pity the fools".