Rocky comes out of retirement to participate in an exhibition bout
with the reigning heavyweight champion, Mason "The Line" Dixon.
Rocky Balboa (2006)
Written and Directed by Sylvester Stallone
Starring Sylvester Stallone, Burt Young, Antonio Tarver,
Geraldine Hughes, Milo Ventimiglia, Tony Burton,
A.J. Benza, James Francis Kelly III
Sequel to 1990's Rocky V
Who would've thought that Stallone's sixth bout as the Italian Stallion would have turned out so good, especially since the actor was way past his prime at the time. Rocky Balboa does more than showcase a character entering his twilight years. It celebrates the entire Rocky franchise by giving fans the final fight they'd been yearning for for sixteen years. Granted, when compared to his previous final bouts, Mason "The Line" Dixon is at the bottom of the rung near Tommy Gunn. Still, it isn't the fighter that's important here. It's the fight itself.
I've praised Sly time and time again for his performance in this franchise and once again, he does not disappoint. This is his first time playing an old, weathered Rocky Balboa and considering how close the character is to his heart, it's no surprise that Sly gives it his all for the sixth time. It's strange to see Rocky in a world that's moved on without him. Seeing him without Adrian brought tears to my eyes, as she'd always been his rock. You could see how her death has deeply affected him and throughout the film, we get the sense that Rocky is a slightly different man.
With a solid supporting cast and the familiar montage tune by Bill Conti, Rocky Balboa excels at reminding fans of the franchise how far we've come and how the franchise has welded itself onto our hearts. The final fight between Rocky and Dixon is not tailored for our viewing pleasure. It's not painfully obvious that Rocky will win. Instead, we watch a worn-out former champ try his best to take down a fighter in his prime. At times, it's painful. At other times, it's heartwarming. Overall, it sums up the franchise very well by giving fans a fight that is the epitome of Rocky's story. It's not about how hard you can hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.