is a boxing saga
of popular films all written by and starring Sylvester Stallone
, who plays the character Rocky Balboa
. The films are, by order of release date: Rocky
(1976), Rocky II
(1979), Rocky III
(1982), Rocky IV
(1985), Rocky V
(1990) and Rocky Balboa
(2006). The film series has grossed more than $
1 billion at the worldwide box office.
Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) is a small-time boxer who seems to be going nowhere in life, as he works day-in and day-out as a collector for a loan shark and fights in sleazy clubs for low-paid reward, to which Rocky is mocked and told that he's nothing but a 'bum', especially by gym trainer Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith). At the same time, Rocky unsuccessfully courts Adrian Pennino (Talia Shire), a painfully shy woman with an alcoholic brother, Paulie (Burt Young). But when heavyweight champion of the world Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) chooses Rocky at random as his opponent in a title fight, Rocky realizes he now has the chance to prove he is not worthless. With Adrian as his support and Mickey becoming his trainer and manager, Rocky fights for his self-respect.
Soon after proving himself, even with a loss to Apollo Creed, Rocky expects the good life to follow. He marries Adrian and begins spending the money he earned from the match. But after he fails at both endorsements and a series of low-wage jobs, Rocky realizes the only way he can survive is to begin boxing again. Creed, on the other hand, faces criticism from fans to overcome the fight. As a result, he taunts Rocky through publicity into a rematch, for which Rocky trains once again with Mickey. In the fifteenth round, Rocky knocks Creed to the ground, falling to the ground himself in the process. Both fighters struggle to get to their feet, but only Rocky is successful. For the first time, Rocky is declared the Heavyweight Champion of the World.
After winning the heavyweight title, Rocky takes advantage of his newfound wealth and fame, appearing in multiple advertisements & television programs, and relishing his new celebrity. After defending the title multiple times, he is prepared to retire, but the #1 contender, James "Clubber" Lang (played by Mr. T), challenges Rocky publicly. Rocky, after dealing with Mickey's heart attack before the fight, is overpowered by the stronger, hungrier Lang and is knocked out in the second round. Mickey passes away after the fight, and old rival Apollo Creed steps in, training Rocky to fight more in Creed's old style (and in his old Los Angeles gym) and use more guile and skill. In the rematch, Rocky outboxes Lang, tiring the stronger fighter out and eventually knocking him out in the third round. After the fight, Apollo calls in his "favor" for training Rocky, which is a one-on-one match between the two of them with no cameras, no media, just man vs. man in the gym. The film ends as they each throw their first punch.
After winning back the title from Clubber Lang, Rocky decides to spend some time with his family. However, destiny has some new plans for him which doesn't allow him to leave the ring. A new fighter from the USSR, Ivan Drago (played by Dolph Lundgren) has emerged, and challenges Rocky to an exhibition match. Apollo fights instead, and the beating he takes from Drago ends with him dying in Rocky's arms, still in the ring, as Drago coldly watches. To avenge Apollo, Rocky challenges Drago to a rematch, which is to be held Christmas Day in Moscow. In a montage replete with symbolism, Rocky is shown training in a remote cabin in Siberia with the help of Creed's old trainer Duke, his brother-in-law Paulie and (eventually) Adrian, doing exercises such as chopping wood, lifting rocks, running in the snow and climbing a mountain filled with snow, while Drago is seen in an ultratechnological training facility running on treadmills, utilizing weightlifting machines, and to boost his strength he has been injecting steroids. During the fight itself, Rocky takes the worst beating of his life, but refuses to fall, eventually winning over the foreign crowd with his display of courage and determination, and knocks Drago out with seconds left in the final round.
After the fight with Drago, Rocky Balboa is diagnosed with brain damage and is forced to retire from the ring. As if that isn't bad enough, the Balboa fortune is all gone due to an unscrupulous accountant. Rocky's family returns to their old neighborhood: Adrian returns to the pet store she used to work at, while, in a subplot, Rocky Jr. (played by Sylvester Stallone's real son) deals with bullying at the local high school and Rocky reopens Mickey's old gym. He meets a boxer named Tommy Gunn (played by real-life fighter Tommy Morrison) and begins training him. Unfortunately, a sleazy fight promoter named George Washington Duke convinces Tommy that Rocky is holding him back, and Tommy throws over Rocky for Duke. After Tommy wins the heavyweight championship, he makes a short speech thanking Duke, and is met with jeers and the familiar chant of "Rocky" from the crowd. Seething from this insult, as well as being called "Rocky's Robot" in the papers, Tommy decides to seek out his former mentor for a final showdown. Rocky starts to walk away from the public challenge, but Paulie decides to let Tommy have a piece of his mind about how Tommy has treated Rocky - after which Tommy punches out Paulie. Rocky then challenges Tommy, "Hey - you knocked him down, why don't you try knocking me down now?" Duke tells Rocky that the fight will be in the ring, but Rocky tells Tommy "My ring's outside." The two proceed outside for a bare-knuckle street fight, which Rocky wins.
In Rocky Balboa, sixteen years have passed since his final fight with his former protégé, Tommy Gunn. Long retired Rocky Balboa still staggers around an ever-changing world; his son is grown and distant, Paulie is working back at the meat plant, and Rocky's wife Adrian has died. Rocky has opened a restaurant, named after his wife, which he stocks with mementos of his prime as he tells his old fight stories to the customers. But when a computer simulated fight on ESPN depicting a bout between a young Rocky Balboa and the current champion, Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver) reignites interest in the faded boxer, Rocky discovers he has not lost his fighting spirit and considers an opportunity to prove himself in the ring again. Rocky does a great job fighting, and almost wins.
Potential Rocky VII
In 2009, Stallone gave an interview to the German TV station Tele5 whereupon he mentioned that although it sounds foolish to some he feels he needs to make another Rocky movie, because "artists must again and again go through the dark." He also stated cryptically that the movie would likely be about getting older rather than boxing. At least one top executive at MGM has speculated they have plans to continue the Rocky franchise, based both on the overall gross of the movies (over 1 billion dollars) and the overwhelming positive commercial and critical reception that met Rocky Balboa. Later it became clear that the German station had picked up quotes from Stallone before he made Rocky Balboa. Stallone has since focused on a sequel to his action movie The Expendables, but has mentioned that the Rocky saga will continue, and the older he gets the more necessary it is to write another Rocky movie. The fact that seasoned "hurt bombs" can prevail over naive young talent was proven in Rocky Balboa. .