Yo Adrian, Stallone did it

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 29, 2007

A much-anticipated event occurred Tuesday night and it did not disappoint.

Tuesday night, I viewed the movie &#8220Rocky Balboa,” the sixth and final installment in the Rocky series, for the first time.

What I saw was nothing short of amazing.

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(If you haven't seen it, go rent it, come back and finish this article. The rest of this article reveals the ending of the plot.)

The original &#8220Rocky” captivated audiences in 1976, even winning the Academy Award for Best Picture, and has been a fixture in our culture ever since.

The latest installment not only brought the story full circle, but it also put a tremendous ending to such an inspiring story.

Sylvester Stallone's creation pitted a small, poor Italian from the Philadelphia streets against the world's most feared, and sometimes revered, boxers.

Throughout the series, Rocky lost a split decision to Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) in Balboa'a hometown of Philly, Rocky defeated Creed by knockout in the rematch, Rocky lost to Clubber Lang (Mr. T) and then defeated him in the rematch, Rocky defeated the Russian Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) and, in the latest movie, lost a split decision to the world's undefeated No. 1 boxer, Mason &#8220The Line” Dixon (Antonio Tarver).

Throughout the series, Rocky lost his manager Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith) to a heart attack, his best friend Creed at the hands of the Russian, and, in the new movie, his wife Adrian (Talia Shire) to cancer.

The &#8220Rocky” series wasn't just about a boxer with a speech impediment, it was about going for your dreams in the face of all obstacles.

Rocky truly represents the way we ought to live our lives.

The latest movie demonstrates this by pitting an aged Rocky against the undefeated and unstoppable Dixon in a fantasy fight turned real.

Surpassing what George Foreman did against Evander Holyfield in 1991 at the age of 42, Rocky goes the distance with Dixon and leaves the ring before the decision is even announced because he knows, win or lose, he won by proving to everyone that will conquers all.

Now that the series is complete, I will use my will to rank the &#8220Rocky” movies from best to worst. Take into account the margin between No. 1 and No. 5 in the rankings is minimal because they are all so good.

No.1- Rocky III

I've taken a lot of criticism for this pick over the years, but the third installment of the Rocky series has to be the best. Not too many movies can get away with making five sequels and the middle ones end up being the best, but just that happened with Rocky III. Not only is there more fighting with Rocky losing once to Clubber Lang, splitting a boxing/wrestling match with Thunderlips (Hulk Hogan) and then defeating Lang to recapture the title, but there is more plot. When Mickey dies following the first loss to Lang, you begin to see a new side to Rocky, one that is fierce and is the attacker instead of the defender.

No. 2- Rocky Balboa

If you haven't seen it, then you can't criticize this pick. If you have seen it and you disagree, well, then you are just wrong. The last Rocky picture ever brings it all back around and finishes it the way it started. The fight is reminiscent of the first fight against Apollo and the HBO broadcasting team makes the Rocky-Dixon fight the best-produced fight of the series. Rocky Balboa comes complete with the usual montages and Rocky theme songs, but it also rights what Rocky V wronged. Rocky V was so bad there is not even any mention or reference to it in this final installment. Just like Rocky, Stallone gets better with age.

No. 3- Rocky II

The fight in Rocky Balboa is a great fight, but the fight in Rocky II is, quite possibly, the best. After Apollo decides to give Rocky another shot at the title in order to put to rest talk that Rocky actually won the first fight, Apollo finds his hands full with a load full of Italian Stallion. The back-and-forth fight ends with the two fighters knocking each other to the ground, only to have Rocky get up right before the 10 count. Rocky's first title reign was captivating and secured the berth of a third Rocky.

No. 4- Rocky IV

The United States versus the U.S.S.R. The Land of the Free versus the Iron Curtain. Rocky versus the Russian wasn't the Cold War, but it did come along during a time when tensions between the two global powers were beginning to fade. Although rocky was not Ivan Drago's original opponent, he is forced into the ring to defend his friend's, and his country's, honor after Creed is killed in the ring by the Russian in a fight billed as an exhibition. Rocky not only takes on Drago on Russian soil, but he does it wearing his late friend's American flag patterned trunks. The music and montages in the fourth Rocky may be the best of all, but little did we know that such a great movie like Rocky IV would lead to such a bad movie like Rocky V.

No. 5- Rocky

The original isn't always the best, and the Rocky series is proof. That doesn't mean I think Rocky is bad, because I don't. I think it is one of the greatest movies in cinematic history. As I stated in a disclaimer before the rankings, the margin between my No. 1 and No. 5 is minimal, meaning if Rocky is No. 5, then 1-4 should be amazing. And they are. The original movie starts the love story between Adrian and Rocky and ends with Rocky realizing and living his dream. The first may not always be the best, but it sure did set the foundation for something great.

No. 6 - Rocky V

Why Stallone, why? Why did you do this to us? This movie was terrible and if you haven't seen it I envy you. Just thank goodness Stallone did us all a favor by negating Rocky V with one of the best movies in the series and one of the best movies of the year.

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor and can be reached by phone at 334-382-3111 ext. 122, by fax at 334-382-7104 or by e-mail at austin.phillips@greenvilleadvocate.com