Best to Worst: The Rocky Films

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Over dinner this past weekend, some friends and I got into a debate over a subject that is rarely broached by any sensible adult in a social setting. The subject? Rocky movies… ordering them from best to worst.

As you can see, we’re walking on sacred ground here.

So, without further ado, let me present you with my opinion on which Rocky films rule the hardest.

  1. Rocky
    • Why? – C’mon, this one’s easy. It’s the first Rocky, and is the single reason why there were five more after it. Simply put, Rocky rules. We follow some street-thug/local boxer with a heart as he falls in love and gets a shot at the big time. Ultimately, he goes the distance with Apollo Creed and loses based on a split decision. Adrian!!!
  2. Rocky IV
    • Why? – Apollo Creed gets killed by a Commie… Well, to be more specific, Ivan Drago kills him in the ring… and right after a rousing performance of “Living in America” by James Brown. Thirsty for vengeance, Rocky leaves his family behind and heads for Russia for some intense back-to-basics training shown in the form of a killer montage. Finally, Rocky battles the Ruskie bohemoth, takes a huge beating, emerges victorious and gives a speech to the now pro-American Russian crowd/government officials about how they’re not so different. Basically, Rocky wins one for America. F yeah!
  3. Rocky II
    • Why? – Even though Apollo Creed said there wouldn’t be a re-match after the bout in the first Rocky, he changes his mind and intensely pursues the match. After the first match, Rocky had decided to retire from boxing, but after some constant taunting by Apollo and thanks to the support and urging of the Philly community, Rocky accepts. Rocky begins training, his newly-wed, Adrian, gets pregnant and subsequently slips into a coma. Eventually, after some serious soul-searching and after Adrian wakes from her Coma, Rocky fights Apollo and wins. It’s a hell of a good movie.
  4. Rocky Balboa(aka Rocky VI)
    • Why? – An older, long-retired Balboa lives alone and manages his small Italian restaurant named after his deceased wife, Adrian. After an “virtual fight” airs on ESPN that predicts that Balboa, in his hey-day, would beat the current undefeated heavy-weight, Mason “The Line” Dixon in a match, the powers that be work to arrange an exhibition. As per usual, some soul searching takes places and Rocky decides to make hit happen. He trains hard, re-builds his relationship with his estranged son, meets a girl, gets a dog and fights his heart out. After a long, brutal match, a split decision is rendered that names Dixon the victor. But whene the decision is made, Rocky’s already out of the ring and headed to the locker room. He came for one last, good fight and got it. Rocky Balboa surprised me. I didn’t expect much and got quite a bit. It’s no Rocky II, but it’s close.
  5. Rocky III
    • Why? – I’ve never been a huge fan of Rocky III. It’s not bad, but for me, it just never seemed to live up to the others. Anyway, after defending his title many times since defeating Apollo, he’s getting bored. However, a new badass is on the rise and he goes by the name Clubber Lang. After taking place in a novelty “Boxer v. Wrestler” match against Thunderlips, “The Ultimate Male,” Rocky decides to hang up his gloves and retire. In an announcement in front of the newly unveiled Rocky statue, Rocky announces his retirement. Halfway through the announcement, Clubber Lang shows up and starts talking smack(aks “Jibba Jabba”) and challenges Rock to a fight. Rocky accepts and loses to Clubber in the second round after he notices Micky clutching his chest. After the fight, Micky dies. After the usual soul-searching, Rocky agress to go train with Apollo. Cue the montage and the subsequent victorious fight against Clubber Lang and we’re shown one of the best endings of all the Rocky films.
  6. Rocky V
    • Why? – I’ll be honest; It’s hard ranking the Rocky movies. At least it’s hard until you hit Rocky V. This movie blows. Big Time. Long, boring story short: Rocky returns from Russia with brain damage after his bout with Ivan Drago and is forced to retire. His retirement is shortlived, though, thanks to some poor investment decisions made by his accountant. Rocky begins traing boxers and comes across Tommy “Machine” Gunn who shows a lot of potential. Tommy quickly grows impatient with Rocky’s training and switches training. Eventually, the two have it out in a no-holds-barred streetfight. Rocky wins(I think. I’ve only seen it once because it blows so hard). The end. Blah.

Except for Rocky V, all the Rocky movies are good. That’s an easy statement to make. However, the real arguments begin when you start trying to rank them in order of best to worst. Rocky I is almost always given as being the best and Rocky V usually takes the last spot. It’s those in-between that really stir up the controversy.

What do you think? How would you rank the Rocky films? Feel free to debate it up. After all, we’re talking about Rocky. A little bit of friendly debate seems very appropriate here.