'Rocky': Round 5

On movies

November 16, 1990|By Lou Cedrone

SYLVESTER Stallone has done it again. You would think his ''Rocky'' films would succumb to the law of averages, but the newest in the series, written by Stallone, is better than some of the others.

''Rocky V'' has originality, and that's surprising in a boxing film. Aren't the stories always the same?

Well, yes, they are, but this one braves a few new trails. When the film begins, the credits give us a review of the last film, one in which the Philadelphia boy took on the Russian champ and put him away.

That's all right. That gives the series continuation, and the new film, unlike the fourth, does not overdo on the old footage.

After the bout with Drago, the Russian giant in ''Rocky IV,'' Rocky returns home to discover that his business manager had gambled all of Rocky's money away, and Rocky, Adrian and her son are back to square one. That means it is the old neighborhood and the pet shop for Adrian. It also means that Rocky and Adrian's son will have to go to the neighborhood school where he is certain to be bullied.

That's another theme, one of several that are nicely woven together. Say what you want about Stallone, but he does know how to write a script.

He also knows how to fake a fight. Even though the bouts are brutal, there is a kind of beauty to their fakery.

This time, Rocky doesn't get into the ring. He says he is through and means it. Instead, he coaches a new kid, a hungry young man (Tommy Morrison) who wants to make it in the ring. He is so hungry he betrays Rocky and picks up with a greedy promoter who hopes to force Rocky back into the ring.

Rocky still doesn't bite, but we do have a climactic fight, one that is as exciting as all the others in these films.

''Rocky V'' begins a little slowly, and for a time Stallone seems to be piling on the brain-damage business, but as the film moves along, he improves. Stallone is an actor, too, a good one.

Talia Shire repeats as Adrian, Sage Stallone, son of Sylvester, plays Rocky and Adrian's son in the film. Talent obviously runs in the family. Burgess Meredith and Burt Young, who were in previous ''Rocky'' movies, reappear in the fifth, Meredith in flashback.

''Rocky V''

*** Rocky Balboa retires from the ring then trains another young man who is hungry for the world title.

CAST: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Burgess Meredith, Richard Gant, Sage Stallone, Tommy Morrison

DIRECTOR: John Alvidsen

RATING: PG-13 (violence, language)

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

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