Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John G. Avildsen|
|Produced by||Robert Chartoff
|Written by||Sylvester Stallone|
|Music by||Bill Conti
|Cinematography||Steven B. Poster|
|Editing by||John G. Avildsen
Robert A. Ferretti
Michael N. Knue
|Distributed by||MGM/UA Communications Company
(USA & Canada)
United International Pictures
|Running time||104 minutes|
Rocky V is a 1990 American film. The fifth film in the Rocky series, written by and starring Sylvester Stallone, and co-starring Talia Shire, Stallone's real life son Sage, and real life boxer Tommy Morrison as boxer Tommy Gunn, a talented yet raw boxer. Sage played Robert Balboa, whose relationship with his famous father is explored. After Stallone directed the second through fourth films in the series, Rocky V saw the return of director John G. Avildsen, whose direction of the first film won him an Academy Award for Best Director.
Reception to the film was generally negative and was (at the time) considered a very disappointing conclusion to the series presumed ending. Box Office highly diminished from its predecessor by at least $200 million dollars. This film marked the final appearance of Talia Shire and Burgess Meredith in the Rocky series. Though this was presumed to be the ending of the series, sixteen years later Sylvester Stallone made the 6th entry into the series (Rocky Balboa). Due to the low box office result, this was the last Rocky movie that United Artists had any involvement in.
Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) and his trainer Tony "Duke" Evers (Tony Burton) are in their dressing room after the Drago fight. Tony praises Rocky for his victory and for honoring Apollo Creed's memory, but Rocky, seen to be in some form of severe physical discomfort, asks Tony to summon his wife Adrian (Talia Shire). His hands are shaking, and he cannot make them stop. In distress, he mistakenly calls out for "Mick", the name of his deceased former trainer, Mickey Goldmill.
Rocky returns home from the Soviet Union and is greeted by his son, Robert (Sage Stallone). At a press conference, a promoter named George Washington Duke (Richard Gant) tries to goad Rocky into fighting Union Cane (Michael Williams), the new #1 contender for the world heavyweight championship in Tokyo, but with Adrian insisting on her husband's retirement, Rocky decides, at least for the time being, not to take the fight with Cane.
Rocky, Adrian and Paulie (Burt Young) return home to find that Paulie had unknowingly signed a 'power of attorney' over to Balboa's accountant, who had, in turn, squandered all of Rocky's money on bad business deals (it is also revealed the accountant had not paid Rocky's income taxes in 6 years). Now bankrupt, Rocky decides to take the fight with Cane, but having suffered significant brain damage during the Drago bout, he can no longer fight without further risking his health and officially retires. Rocky is then forced to move back into his old working-class Philadelphia neighborhood, where he and his family must try to start their lives all over again. The only thing Rocky doesn't lose is Mickey's gym, which Mickey had willed to Robert. Rocky then begins training boxers at Mickey's gym, Adrian gets her old job back at the pet store across the street and Paulie goes back to the meat packing plant.
Things start to look up when Rocky meets a hungry young fighter from Oklahoma named Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison) and takes him under his wing. Training the young fighter gives Rocky a sense of purpose, and Tommy fights his way up the ladder to become a top contender. Rocky eventually becomes so distracted with Tommy's training that he winds up neglecting Robert who becomes withdrawn and angry. He falls in with the wrong crowd at school and as a result, he begins acting out at home.
Meanwhile, Tommy's impressive rise through the ranks catches the eye of Duke, who uses the promise of a title shot against Cane (now the champion) to lure him away from Rocky. Duke pulls up outside the Balboa house with Tommy in tow, who has now been deceived into thinking that Rocky doesn't have his best interests in mind. When Rocky tries to convince him otherwise, Tommy drives off in a huff, leaving Rocky for good.
When Adrian attempts to comfort him, Rocky's frustrations finally boil over. He confesses his life had meaning again when he was able to live vicariously through Tommy's success. She reasons with him, telling him Tommy never had his heart and spirit – something he could never learn. When this realization hits him, Rocky embraces his wife and they begin to pick up the pieces. After finding Robert hanging out on a street corner, Rocky apologizes to his son and they mend their broken relationship.
Tommy wins the heavyweight title by knocking out Union Cane in the first round, but is booed by spectators and hounded by reporters after the fight. They insist Cane was nothing but a "paper champion", because Cane didn't win the title from Balboa. Therefore, the public would never consider Tommy the real champion unless he fights a worthy opponent. With Tommy enraged by the press's reaction, Duke convinces Tommy he needs to fight Rocky man to man. Duke and Tommy show up at a local bar to goad Rocky into accepting a fight. But after Tommy hits Paulie, Rocky challenges Tommy to a street fight on the spot. Despite Duke's warnings to keep the fight in the ring, Tommy accepts.
As the fight goes on, Rocky is eventually beaten down by Tommy and is seemingly out for the count. He then hears the voice of his old mentor urging him to get up and get back in the fight, to go just "one more round". Rocky gets back up and, utilizing his vast street fighting knowledge, is able to knock out his former protégé. Afterwards, Duke commends Rocky, trying to appeal to him. Duke threatens to sue if Rocky touches him, but after a brief hesitation, Rocky punches Duke in the gut anyway, knocking him onto the hood of a car. The crowd cheers as the bankrupt Rocky shrugs and quips "Sue me for what?"
In closing, Rocky and Robert take a trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Rocky gives his son Rocky Marciano's cuff-link, given to him years ago as a gift from Mickey. The film ends with a shot of Rocky's statue looking out over Philadelphia.
- Sylvester Stallone – Rocky Balboa
- Talia Shire – Adrian Balboa
- Burt Young – Paulie Pennino
- Sage Stallone – Robert Balboa Jr.
- Tommy Morrison – Tommy Gunn
- Richard Gant – George Washington Duke
- Tony Burton – Tony "Duke" Evers
- Burgess Meredith – Mickey Goldmill
- Michael Williams (III) – Union Cane
The film contains cameos by several sportswriters and boxing analysts, most notably Al Bernstein, Stan Hochman and Al Meltzer. Sportscaster Stu Nahan makes his fifth and final appearance in the Rocky series, this time as a sports journalist.
Rocky's priest friend Father Carmine (Paul Micale) makes his second of two appearances in the Rocky series, the first being in Rocky II.
The character "Tommy Gunn" was played by Tommy Morrison. Morrison's nickname in boxing was "The Duke" similar to George Washington Duke, who becomes his manager in the movie. Morrison has claimed to be the grandnephew of John "The Duke" Wayne.
Michael Williams (III), who plays Union Cane, was also a real-life boxer. He and Morrison were to have an actual match about a month after Rocky V was released, but had to be canceled when Williams was hurt. The match was being hyped as "The Real Cane vs. Gunn Match".
Jodi Letizia, who played street kid Marie in the original Rocky (1976), was supposed to reprise her role here. Her character was shown to have ended up as Rocky predicted she would: a whore, but the scene ended up on the cutting room floor. Although she can briefly be seen during the street fight at the end, the character would eventually reappear in Rocky Balboa (2006), as a bartender and confidante to the aging Rocky. Actress Geraldine Hughes took over the role.
Some of the fight sequences were filmed at The Blue Horizon in Philadelphia, a venue which was a mecca for boxing in the city during the 1970s.
Scenes with Mickey, played by Burgess Meredith, were trimmed in the final film when Rocky fights Tommy. Mickey appeared in ghost form on top of the railway bridge, giving words of encouragement. In the final film, this was made into flashbacks. The speech Mickey gives to Rocky in the flashback sequence is based on an interview with Cus D'Amato given in 1985, shortly after Mike Tyson's first professional bout.
The image of Gunn's first professional fight, the pullback from the mural of Jesus over the boxing ring, mirrors the opening shot of the first Rocky movie. Adrian goes back to working at the pet shop she first worked at in the original Rocky.
The golden glove necklace featured so prominently in this film was first seen in Rocky II (worn by Apollo Creed), then again throughout Rocky III and IV. As a promotional gimmick, replicas of the necklace were distributed to moviegoers at the Hollywood premiere of Rocky V at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.
The famous red, white and blue boxing trunks first worn by Apollo Creed in his fight with Rocky in the first film make their fifth and final appearance in this film. Rocky's leather coat introduced in Rocky IV makes its second and final appearance in the franchise at the start of the movie.
The Ring Magazine belt in Rocky's basement and the identical belt Morrison wins in the ring have changed slightly from the previous movies; they are missing the four side panels showing famous champions George Foreman, James J. Corbett, James J. Braddock, and Floyd Patterson.
According to Stallone, pro wrestling legend Terry Funk helped choreograph much of the street fight between Rocky and Tommy Gunn.
Original Ending 
In the original script, Rocky is killed during the final fight with Tommy, dying in Adrian's arms in the street. Through most of the filming and production, this was to be the outcome; it wasn't until the film was nearing completion that Stallone decided against Rocky's death and went with the current ending. According to him, the director, and the studio had second thoughts. Eventually, Stallone rewrote the ending, saying that he decided to change it because Rocky was supposed to be about perseverance and redemption, and having him die in a street brawl would be against the roots of the series.
In the ensuing years following the film's release, Stallone acknowledged that the injury Rocky suffers subsequently forcing him to retire, referenced in the film as a potentially lethal form of 'brain damage', was inaccurate. Stallone stated that having discussed the story with many boxing medical professionals, the injury Rocky suffered was a milder form of brain damage, similar to that of a long term concussion that many boxers suffer from and by modern day standards are still able to gain licenses to box and would not have prevented Rocky from gaining a license to box nor killed him.
Tony Burton briefly reprises his role as Duke at the beginning of the film. However, during his scenes, Rocky refers to him as "Tony". In the credits, Burton is credited as playing "Tony," as opposed to "Duke" (perhaps to avoid confusion with the George Washington Duke character) Rocky V is the second time in the series to do so, with the first being Rocky II as Apollo asked "What are you afraid of, Tony?" Rocky Balboa names Burton's character, "Duke Evers". Most fans take this to imply that his name is Tony 'Duke' Evers.
Another mistake is the age of Rocky's son Robert. This film seems to take place directly after the fourth installment where Rocky Jr was 9 years old. However when Rocky returns to America his son is suddenly a teenager.
The soundtrack album is not the original motion picture score, but rather has music from and inspired by the film. This soundtrack features Joey B. Ellis, MC Hammer, 7A3, MC Tab, Rob Base, and Bill Conti. Most of the soundtrack album contains rap music, rather than the Bill Conti score. Also, two of the scores from Rocky IV were featured in this film's trailer, but were not present in the actual film. "Measure of a Man" was written by Alan Menken and performed by Elton John.
Like Rocky IV, a full version of "Gonna Fly Now" with lyrics is not heard in the film. However an instrumental horn version is played during the early scene where Rocky gets off the airplane, and at the end of the move after Rocky defeats Tommy, the first few seconds of the original version can be heard – though it never makes it to the lyrics.
Box office 
Anticipated to be one of the big hits of the 1990 holiday season, Rocky V finished second in its opening weekend to Home Alone and never recovered. The film earned $14 million on its opening weekend and $40 million in total US box-office sales, about one-third of its predecessor's take. Rocky V however made almost twice as much overseas and thereby a total of $119.9 million worldwide.
Critical response 
In addition to its disappointing numbers at the box office, Rotten Tomatoes reports that Rocky V has a 27% "rotten" rating on its site. The film departed from the standard Rocky formula on display in the previous four films, which made it extremely unpopular with the audiences that had been drawn to the previous sequels. Stallone himself has gone on record in agreeing that he wasn't satisfied with the finished product, saying "I wanted to finish the series on a high and emotional note, and Rocky V didn't do that." He also faced critique over the decision to bring John G. Avilsden back to direct the film having done the first, as opposed to directing the film himself as he had done with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th installments. Stallone claimed that he wanted to work an easier schedule than what he had done previously, and therefore had less input on the film's production as well as post-production. Criticism was also drawn from the film's ending, claiming following Stallone's last minute decision not to kill Rocky, the film's build-up and narrative was lost.
Nonetheless, Stallone was still praised for his performance and the film received some positive feedback from some fans, with the Los Angeles Times regarding it as the best of the Rocky sequels.
William Goldman later quoted a Hollywood executive as saying the film was based on a bad idea:
The Rocky audience is not deeply committed to subtle character development. They want to see a white guy kick some ass - preferably against an ethnic, but a Russian with do fine. If Rocky was fighting a Columbian drug lord, through the roof. But I don't think they're going to line up to see him teach.
Sequel: Rocky Balboa 
As a result of, and in response to, Rocky V's poor box office performance (and the general dissatisfaction with the end of the franchise), 16 years later Stallone wrote, directed and starred in Rocky Balboa, the sixth and final chapter to the saga. The sixth film was an attempt to redeem the character for a final chance to come back as a hero again, and do the story justice by bringing it full circle; as for Rocky's ability to fight again, Stallone suggested that advances in medical science during the period between the films had shown that the injuries mentioned in Rocky V were less debilitating than once thought, and that he would receive a "clean bill of health" today. It succeeded by grossing over $70 million at the US box office as well, and $85 million abroad, and getting largely positive reviews from both fans and critics.
- Berger, Phil (November 15, 1989). "Film Flam for 'Rocky'". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
- King, Susan (1990-11-24). "Stallone Jr. Hopes Playing Rocky Jr. Won't Cramp His Lifestyle". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
- Klein, Gary (1990-11-16). "Rocky V' Has Drama Coaches in Its Corner : Film: Acting teachers are traditionally barred from movie sets. But for Stallone's latest boxing epic, a Studio City couple was allowed to show newcomer Tommy Morrison the ropes, scene by scene and blow by blow.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-29.
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- Moriaty (December 1, 2006). "Round One With Sylvester Stallone Q&A!!". Ain't It Cool News. Retrieved June 15, 2009.
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- William Goldman, The Big Picture?: Who Killed Hollywood and Other Essays, Applause, 2000 p 41
- Rocky Anthology Official Site
- Rocky V at the Internet Movie Database
- Rocky V at Box Office Mojo
- Rocky V at Rotten Tomatoes
- Rocky V at AllRovi
- Total Rocky Fan Site