Rocky: Heavyweight Collection Blu-ray Review

     Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers, Burt Young, Mr. T
  • Directors: Sylvester Stallone, John G. Avildsen
  • Format: AC-3, Blu-ray, Box set, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, NTSC, Original recording remastered, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (DTS 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Studio: MGM
  • Release Date: February 11, 2014



            The Undisputed Collection of the Rocky films included all six of the films in the franchise, four of which were on Blu-ray for the first time. The discs for the first, Rocky (1976) and the last, Rocky Balboa (2006), in the series were the discs from the previously released Blu-ray, which caused complaints from many consumers. Now just a short time later we have yet another collection, this time titled the Heavyweight Collection and featuring a newly remastered release of Rocky and limiting the size of the package as well as the number of discs needed. The seventh disc of special features has been removed this time around, though nearly all of the former extras have still been included on the first disc. 


            The Rocky films can very easily be categorized by the decades that they were produced in, Sylvester Stallone proving able to stay relevant with the times as he continued the franchise. Stallone made his big break with the original film in 1976, but Rocky II in 1979 is just as effective in portraying the financial difficulties of most in the recession prior to Reagan’s consumerism-obsessed 80s. Rocky (Stallone) is an underdog from the beginning because he is already seen as beyond his prime. He makes his living on the rough streets of Philadelphia as a debt collector, clinging to his dreams of fighting for a living. When the heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), needs a fighter quickly, he chooses Rocky because of his fighting name, the Italian Stallion. Rocky takes this one opportunity to prove his worth seriously, training just to be able to finish the fight still standing.


            Rocky II started a tradition that would stay with the series until the final film, beginning with the final fight sequence from the previous film. After Rocky makes it through the fight with Apollo, he tries to make some money from the attention. What he discovers is that he doesn’t know anything other than boxing, and when he starts a family with Adrian (Talia Shire), money becomes an issue. Eventually he is forced to agree to a rematch simply to pay the mortgage.


            The 70s Rocky films were powerful underdog tales, but the 80s became preoccupied with superficial aspects of success that went completely against the spirit of the first two films. Rocky III is all about Rocky becoming soft with success. He becomes more interested in all of the money and material possessions, allowing him to be taken down easily by a challenger played by Mr. T. Hulk Hogan also makes an appearance in a silly charity fight that combines wrestling and boxing. The films begin to force emotional manipulation, just to hope to capture the magic from the first two films. Rocky IV does the same, killing off Apollo in order to initiate a silly film filled with montages and bad dialogue.


            The 90s attempted to bring Rocky back to his roots, simply by having all of him money stolen in an accounting scam. Rocky V is a disappointment that seems to be clinging to the franchise without attempting to adhere completely to it. Though the family returns to area of Philadelphia from the first film, this film feels very dated. The focus was far too much on the music and clothing styles of the 90s, losing the characters that had been so beloved in the past to a muddled screenplay.


            Rocky Balboa, on the other hand, is a near perfect film. This is the post-9/11 Rocky entry, a film focused on the losses of life. Rocky is alive but he has lost Adrian. He lives alone in the same small house in Philadelphia, running a local restaurant. The film could easily have gotten lost in the conflict between Rocky and a fighter that he will inevitably go the distance with, but instead it is about the way that the beloved character is dealing with the twilight of his life. This is a beautiful correction from the failures of Rocky V, and has the substance that once made the series what it is.


            The special features from the past Blu-ray releases are mostly all here, with the exception of a few unimpressive additions. There are featurettes that cover many aspects of the production, from make-up to the music, but there is also three-part making-of documentary and a great deal of attention on the actual boxing world, including interviews with icons who discuss the significance that the films had on the sport. This release also has a few unique extras, including some 8mm home movies from the production of the original film and a video commentary with Stallone. The biggest complaints about releases like this often come from consumers who already own the previous releases. It does not make sense to purchase the collection a second time for a slight improvement on the quality of the first film and a handful of new special features, but this is certainly the best option for those who don’t already possess these films in their library.


    Entertainment Value: 10/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10

    Historical Significance: 9/10

    Disc Features: 8.5/10



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