If you want a true picture of the mind of Sylvester Stallone and how he approaches his life, his 1976 underdog drama “Rocky” is the best film to turn to. For an insight in to his upbringing “Rocky” bring audiences very close to Stallone. Rocky Balboa is a man who grew up in the sticks and lives his life by the bare minimum. He’s a petty boxer who spends most of his time as a lunk head strong arm for local loan sharks. But deep down he has a heart of gold and a determination that’s both admirable and completely undiscovered. Deep down Stallone is Rocky Balboa, that street hood who had to show the world that he’s so much more than a ghetto hood.
And while “Rocky” is the story of Rocky Balboa’s rise to garner respect and love from the world, Stallone ultimately garnered respect and acclaim by writing what is still the best boxing drama ever made. “Rocky” has heart, soul, and is still one of the most riveting romances ever depicted. A genuine beauty and the beast story, “Rocky” depicts Balboa as a man of unappreciated wisdom and love who spends most of his time dodging violence around him, and seeking ways to fuel his love for the sport of boxing. When he meets young Adrian as a favor to his friend Pauly, Rocky discovers a kindred spirit in the young woman who has also retreated in to a life of the bare minimum, composing her livelihood based around expectations from her friends and family.
The great Talia Shire is magnificent as the meek Adrian who is a reserved and bookish young woman that eventually bursts from her shell thanks to the confidence from Rocky, who sees something deep down in her soul that no one else bothers to look for. Forming a unique bond, Adrian also begins to see a perseverance and sheer courage in Rocky that she knows can elevate him beyond a street hood that everyone else expects him to be. When undefeated heavyweight boxer Apollo Creed loses his chance at a bout, he decides to build up his image by fishing out a local boxer from Philadelphia to grab a chance at the title. Expecting a wash out from the beginning, Apollo and his team recruit Rocky Balboa.
Known as “The Italian Stallion” around the boxing circuit, Apollo is confident Rocky will put on a good show but prove no match. Rocky decides that he can become a champion and soon rises to the challenge and aims for the heavyweight belt. Burgess Meredith gives an equally amazing performance as Rocky’s crusty trainer Mickey who not only shows Rocky how powerful he can truly be, but also becomes his surrogate father over the course of the story. “Rocky” doesn’t so much become about Balboa as a man proving everyone wrong, but proving to himself he’s worth much more than everyone ever told him he was. Stallone gives the best performance of his career as this humble gentle giant who has a lot of love and wisdom to give and no one to really offer it to.
When he finds the opportunity to show that he can rise above the slums and live a life of relevance, it becomes the central focus of the story offering some of the most grueling and compelling moments of obstacles and hardship. “Rocky” builds up to a wonderful action packed climax that’s still among the best sports cinema has to offer, and as a break out film and an ode to the under dog, “Rocky” is still the best ever created. A crowning achievement in Sylvester Stallone’s career as a writer and a performer, “Rocky” is a marvel of dramatic cinema with compelling themes of love and hardship along with a riveting romance. It’s the classic tale of the under dog proving he’s worth a damn in the eyes of the world and himself and an unparalleled cinematic masterpiece.