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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Hebrew, Greek, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Portuguese, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, German - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • 6 Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - & video Commentary from Sylvester Stallone
  • 3 Featurette
  • TV spot

Rocky - Box Set

MGM/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 119 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

If you want to sum up the career of Sylvester Stallone in just 5 movies, this is your box set. We start the trip with Rocky, where the newcomer hit the highs of success with his first real film about a mumbling boxer given a chance at the big time by the world heavyweight champ. Actually conceived of and written by Stallone after inspiration from a little known Ali fight, Stallone put what little he had on the line and convinced the producers that he was the only person who could bring life to Rocky Balboa. Given the go ahead and a million dollar budget, Stallone gave what will probably be the best performance of his life.

Regardless of his performance and the success of the film, in 1976, many people were stunned when Rocky managed to snatch the Best Picture, Best Directing and Best Film Editing Academy Awards away from films such as All The President's Men, Network and Taxi Driver. But that didn't stop people idolizing Rocky Balboa, with his struggle to go the distance against the best in the world both on and off screen touching a nerve in people who turned to the character for inspiration. It gave people a chance to feel good about themselves, to believe for a moment that even if the odds were against them, they still stood a chance if they got in there and gave it their best shot.

Fourteen years and four more Rocky films later, this message was lost amongst the crass marketing of the 80's, the need for bigger and badder foes, the dated attempt to politicize his crusade against the Russians and finally a desperate return to his roots to try salvage both Stallone's and Rocky's self respect. Did it work?

Rocky
Nobody nothing noddy pug Rocky "The Eye-talian Stallion" Balboa, a forty dollar per fight loser, gets offered a shot at the world heavyweight title by reigning champ and Ali clone, Apollo Creed. Nobody expects him to win, not his shy girlfriend Adrian, not his best friend, not his trainer, not Apollo Creed, not anyone in the world and especially not Rocky himself, but he's determined to go the distance and get some respect.

Rocky II
Even though Creed wins the fight, Rocky wins everyone's heart with a gutsy and determined effort that has him hailed as a hero and the real winner of the fight. Creed is mighty pissed off at this, and is determined to lure Rocky "The Italian Chicken" back into the ring for a rematch. Rocky has announced his retirement to save his eyesight, but life isn't going to well with a stable office job hard to come by when you can barely speak English. With Mickey's help and in desperate need to make some cold hard dosh, Rocky takes up the challenge once more and steps back in to the ring.

Rocky III
Rocky is now the current heavyweight champ, but he's also getting a little too comfortable. Angry, hungry and ugly newcomer, Clubber Lang (B.A. Baracus) is after Rocky's title belt. While Rocky is piss-farting about with charity fights against wrestlers (Hulk Hogan before he became Hollywood), Clubber is going around beating the crap out of boxers on his way to the top. Finally meeting in the ring, Clubber smacks the crap outta Rocky and wins the title. Rocky is traumatized by the death of his trainer Mickey and the beating he took from Clubber, but Apollo Creed comes to the rescue and slaps Rocky back into shape to go up against Clubber once more and show him he should never have left the safety of the A-Team.

Rocky IV
Russia enters the world of pro-boxing with juiced-up athlete Ivan Drago. He's big boy, this Drago chap, and as his trainer says "What he hits…he breaks." Creed enters the ring one more time to fight Drago in an exhibition fight, and ends up meeting his maker in the great boxing ring in the sky. Rocky agrees to fight Drago in an unsanctioned fight to be held in Russia, determined to show the world that he can end communism single-handedly by punching the bejessus out of Drago.

Rocky V
Rocky is left a bit of a basket case after his private cold war against Russia, and gives up boxing for good. Enter stage-right promising young boxer Tommy "Machine" Gunn, hoping to be tutored by Rocky, who agrees. A Don King-like promoter lures Tommy away from Rocky and after some harassment they go after Rocky to prove their worth. But Rocky won't have anything to do with these shenanigans and refuses to step back into the ring again. Still, that doesn't mean Rocky won't slap him silly, say, out on the streets where he started, now does it?

  Video
Contract

All the Rocky dvds are presented in the same aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and all are 16x9 enhanced.

The quality of the transfers for all movies tend to be quite similar and is overall very good considering the dark and grainy nature of some of the footage. From time to time throughout the various films the transfer has to deal with low lighting which tends to show up the film grain and sometimes limited black detail. The prints are reasonably clean with a smattering of small specks and scratches peppering all of the films but not really proving to be an issue. Other times the picture is clear with rock solid detail and pinsharp scene rendering. As we move through the series the transfer tends to clear up generally and colours become more vibrant and the picture more detailed.

Rocky and Rocky II share a very similar look, with plenty of shadows and cold colours reflected in the street shots and interiors. Rocky III signaled the move from the gritty street look of the first two films and this makes the going a little easier on the transfer with a brighter look and more vibrant colours. This continues through Rocky IV to an even greater degree which has the brightest and most vibrant look of the series, and a transfer to match which captures the action with just a few soft looking images. Then finally onto Rocky V, which then turned back to the grim look of the first film in an effort to recapture the essence of the story with more low lighting and use of shadows but this time with a much clearer picture.

  Audio
Contract

The audio in the individual Rocky movies is as follows: Rocky - DD5.1, Rocky II - DD2.0 surround encoded, Rocky III - DD5.1, Rocky IV - DD5.1 and Rocky V - DD2.0 surround encoded. Much like the video transfer, the overall quality is good and leaves little to be desired short of a total remix, which just isn't going to happen.

The 5.1 mix for Rocky is airy and clear, but falls short of being exceptional, basically being a center channel heavy mix with limited stereo imaging and surround use. Dialogue is clear but has some minor distortion as characters raise their voices and the score is dynamic and punchy for the age of the film.

Rocky II, with DD2.0 surround encoding is flatter sounding than the first. Dialogue while mostly clear sounds a little chesty and doesn't seem to have a great range and will benefit from turning the volume up a notch. Rocky III is back to DD5.1 and is an improvement over II. The sound is much more open with a wider soundstage, clearer vocals and punches sound more impactful during the fight, even if they do sound ridiculously fake by this stage. Rocky IV is the most dynamic of the lot with a brasher more dynamic sounding mix and a bit more lively activity in the surrounds (but not a lot). Rocky V returns again to a DD2.0 surround encoded mix which sounds clear and natural and though basically a return to being about the characters and not the fights, manages to sound quite good during the final dust-up and crowd shots.

  Extras
Contract

Although there are 5 dvds in this box set, only the first disc is extras loaded. The remains get by with just a theatrical trailer to entertain you.

The devoted Rocky fans will have a smile on their faces when they see the generous special features put together for the first disc, Rocky: The Special Edition. Starting with the audio commentary, it is voiced by director John G. Avildsen, actors Burt Young, Carl Weathers and Talia Shire and producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff. They all take turns reminiscing about how the story came to be, and occasionally discuss specific scenes. The talk is fairly constant and is generally interesting to listen to. Contains quite a few small anecdotes which add to the interest.

Next, and my favourite extra simply because it is a little different, is the Video Commentary from Sylvester Stallone. With his weather beaten head looking straight at the camera, he talks about writing Rocky, how it changed, how it came to be picked up, and little odds and ends such as how his dog, Buttkus Stallone, got to be in the film. He comes across as refreshingly honest and frank, and I could easily have watched another half hour of this. He comes across as more interesting to listen to than you would imagine because he doesn’t take himself too seriously.

The Rocky Featurettes section contains three short featurettes. Behind The Scenes With Director John Avildsen has him discussing his use of 8mm film to capture Stallone and Weathers in rehearsals for the fight scene and shows the original silent footage he shot. Tribute To Burgess Meredith has Stallone, Weathers, Shire and Lee Grant talking about Meredith, who died in 1997. Tribute To James Crabe has director Avildsen talking about the Rocky cinematographer.

The Original Trailers section has a teaser and theatrical trailer and for Rocky, and trailers for the rest of the series. Interesting to watch because you can chart the decline of the series through them and the attempt to redeem itself by the end. You could watch these trailers in order if you didn’t have the time to sit and watch all the movies and you would still get the same result, or at least a good summary of the dips and peaks of the story. After that you can view three Original Rocky TV Spots used to promote the film.

Finally, hidden in the title menu is a bonus easter goog. Accessed by selecting UP on your remote, this reveals the word ROCKY in the top right corner of the screen. Pressing ENTER will take you to a weird little clip where Sylvester Stallone has a conversation with an old friend you might recognize.

  Overall  
Contract

Five Rocky movies, a shot of extras, all in the comfort of your own lounge, how could this not be good value? Yes yes yes… I know that 2 through 5 are not as good as the first film, which had some real heart and wasn't even really about the actual fight, but they all still have some good moments in them buried beneath the clichés, sweat and testosterone.

What many people will pay their money for, the pivotal fight scenes, are exciting (if a taaaaaad unrealistic… okay, so they're downright fake) but director Avildsen has said he thought real fights just didn't look that exciting on film).

So if you've been patiently sitting on your hands waiting for Rocky to plop onto dvd (that doesn't really sound right, does it?), all the while going dododoo dododddooo dododooodoo dooodododooo dodododododo dododdodododooo, then dododooo no more, because now you can relive all his fights in glorious widescreen and digital sound in your own home. Just don't watch them all at once.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=747
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      And I quote...
    "This boxset goes the distance and wins with a knockout punch."
    - Vince Carrozza
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-525
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DB930
    • Speakers:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Centre Speaker:
          Polk Audio CS245
    • Surrounds:
          Wharfedale s500
    • Subwoofer:
          DB Dynamics TITAN
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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