Thanks to a new transfer of the original film and the addition of the new 8mm Home Movies of Rocky (1975), the Rocky: Heavyweight Collection is worth the purchase price if you are a fan of the franchise or don’t already own the collection.
All six films are housed in a solid case that fits inside a nice looking slip-cover. It would have been nice to have a little more love shown to the set itself (maybe a booklet included), but the discs are protected. The films also look and sound great on the Blu-ray format. Rocky is the only film to be re-mastered for the collection, but the others hold up nicely to Blu-ray’s 1080p format (Rocky III looks very impressive).
Rocky (1976) – Written by Sylvester Stallone and directed by John G. Avildsen, Rocky introduced audiences to one of Hollywood’s greatest characters. A small-time boxer (who also works as muscle for a local loan shark), Rocky (Stallone) gets the chance of a lifetime when he is offered a fight with heavy-weight champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). Along with the boxing match, the film also introduced one of cinema’s greatest love stories with Rocky’s true love Adrian (Talia Shire). The film featured great performances from Burt Young as Adrian’s brother Paulie and Burgess Meredith as Rocky’s crusty trainer Mickey.
Rocky II (1979) – Written and directed by Stallone, Rocky II follows the aftermath of the first film as Rocky tries cash in on his sudden fame, becomes a father, and finally agrees to a rematch with Creed. The film lacks some of the charm of the first movie, but is a great follow-up and lays the groundwork for Rocky to become a franchise.
Rocky III (1982) – Written and directed by Stallone, Rocky III finds our champ living the good life and letting fame go to his head. His legacy and worth as a fighter are challenged when Clubber Lang (Mr. T) takes his title, and forces Rocky to turn to Creed for help. Rocky III lacked the gritty realism of the first film, but managed to maintain its charm. It also gave the franchise a new theme with Survivor’s Eye of the tiger.
Rocky IV (1985) – Written and directed by Stallone, Rocky IV saw Balboa taking on the Cold War as Rocky comes out of retirement and heads to Russia to face down Drago (Dolph Lundgren). Rocky’s very life is on the line following Drago’s destruction of Creed in a high-profile exhibition match that went horribly wrong. Rocky IV is a far step from where the franchise began, but managed to be the highest grossing film of the series.
Rocky V (1990) – Written by Stallone and directed by Avildsen, Rocky V was a huge flop for the franchise, but managed to regain some of its roots. The film finds a broke (and somewhat punch drunk) Rocky returning to the old neighborhood after he lost all his money. While dealing with a rebellious and resentful son, Rocky starts to train a new fighter, but ends up having to face his young protégé in a street fight.
Rocky Balboa (2006) – Written and directed by Stallone, Rocky Balboa sees the boxer living a quiet life as a restaurant owner and trying to repair his damaged relationship with his son. His beloved Adrian has died and his days are mostly spent telling old boxing stories to his customers. His world is turned upside down when he is given the chance to step into the ring one final time for an exhibition match against the heavyweight champ Mason ‘The Line’ Dixon. Rocky Balboa follows some of the groundwork laid in Rocky V with Rocky still in the old neighborhood and still having a strained relationship with his son. The film also manages to completely capture the charm and heart of the first Rocky. It is a fitting way to end the series.
Along with the six films, the Blu-ray set includes the following bonus features (a mix of new and previous released material):
8mm Home Movies of Rocky (1975) — Narrated by Director John G. Avildsen and Production Manager Lloyd Kaufman
In the Ring: Three-Part Making-of Documentary
Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes: Makeup, Music, Directing and Camera Work
Boxing Featurettes: Three Rounds with Legendary Trainer Lou Duva, The Opponents and The Ring of Truth
Tributes: Burgess Meredith, James Crabe
Interview with a Legend: Bert Sugar
Video Commentary with Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone on Dinah! (1976)
Theatrical Trailers, TV Spots