- "It ain't over 'til it's over."
Rocky Balboa (also known as Rocky VI) is the sixth and final instalment in the Rocky film series, directed by and starring Sylvester Stallone. The film, which was also written by Stallone who plays underdog boxer: Rocky Balboa, is the sixth film in the Rocky series that began with the Academy Award-winning Rocky thirty years earlier in 1976. The film portrays Balboa in retirement, a widower living in Philadelphia, and the owner and operator of a local Italian restaurant called "Adrian's", named after his late wife.
Rocky Balboa was produced as another sequel to the Academy Award-winning Rocky. According to Stallone, he was "negligent" in the production of Rocky V leaving him and many of the fans disappointed with the presumed end of the series. Stallone also mentioned that the storyline of Rocky Balboa parallels his own struggles and triumphs in recent times.
In addition to Stallone, the film stars Burt Young as Paulie, Rocky's brother-in-law, and real-life boxer Antonio Tarver as Mason "The Line" Dixon, the current World Heavyweight Champion in the film. Boxing promoter Lou DiBella plays himself in the movie and acts as Dixon's promoter in the film. Milo Ventimiglia plays Rocky's son Robert, now an adult. It also features the return of two minor characters from the original movie into larger roles in this film: Marie, the young woman that Rocky attempts to steer away from trouble; and Spider Rico, the first opponent that Rocky is shown fighting in the original film. The film also holds many references to people and objects from previous instalments in the series, especially the first.
Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), in his late fifties and retired from boxing for sixteen years, lives a quiet life as a widower; his wife Adrian (Talia Shire) had died from cancer in 2002. He runs a small but very successful Italian restaurant named after her, where he regales his patrons with stories of his past. He also battles personal demons involving his grief over Adrian's death, the changing times, and his eroding relationship with his son Robert (Milo Ventimiglia), a struggling corporate employee. Paulie (Burt Young), Rocky's brother-in-law and longtime friend, continues to support him whenever he can.
Late one night, Rocky reunites with a much older "Little" Marie (Geraldine Hughes), a once mischievous neighbourhood girl (whom he first met in Rocky) now working as a bartender at the Lucky Seven, a tavern Rocky once frequented in the mid-70s, and a single parent of a teenaged son born out of wedlock: Stephenson, nicknamed "Steps" (James Francis Kelly III). Rocky's friendship with the two quickly blossoms over the following weeks, and Steps takes to him as a father figure. A budding romantic relationship between Rocky and Marie was implied, but never fully explored by Rocky out of his reverence for Adrian. Meanwhile on the professional boxing circuit, the newly crowned world heavyweight champion, Mason "The Line" Dixon (Antonio Tarver), reigns undefeated, but he is ridiculed for having never gone up against a real contender. This frustrates the champ, causing tension with the public and his promoters, and encouraging him to return to his roots - the small gym he first trained in, as well as his old trainer who sagely tells him that he will inevitably earn back his respect (and more importantly, his self-respect) through fighting a true opponent.
ESPN broadcasts a computer simulation of a fight between Rocky (in his prime) and Mason, likened to a modern-day version of The Super Fight that ends in a controversial KO victory for Balboa, further riling the champ. In contrast, the simulation inspires Rocky to take up boxing again — an intention that goes public when he successfully renews his license. Dixon's promoters pitch the idea of holding a charity exhibition bout at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas to bolster Dixon's falling popularity. With some hesitation, both men agree to the match, creating a media buzz that stabs at Rocky's has-been status and Dixon's credibility. Robert later makes an effort to discourage Rocky from fighting, blaming his own personal failings on his father's celebrity shadow, but Rocky rebukes him with some profound advice; that to succeed in life, "it ain't about how hard you hit; it's about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward", and that blaming others won't help him. The next day, father and son meet over Adrian's grave and reconcile; Robert has quit his job to be at Rocky's side. Rocky sets straight to training with Apollo Creed's old trainer Duke (Tony Burton) who quickly surmises that the slow and arthritic Rocky can only compete by building his strength and punching power as much as possible. The fight ends up becoming an HBO Pay-per-View event with Michael Buffer as the ring announcer.
The bout itself is a back and forth affair, with Dixon easily dominating the first round only to injure his left hand in the second on Rocky's hip, after which Rocky makes a dramatic comeback: he manages to knock Dixon down once, then continues to surprise the audience with his prowess and chin against the much younger and faster fighter. Dixon sends Rocky to one knee in the final round, but the elder fighter pulls himself to his feet for one last assault. The two opponents then continue to punish each other severely throughout the remainder of the final round, ending with both men still standing. Rocky thanks an appreciative Dixon for the fight, and leaves the ring to the adulation of the crowd as the result is announced: Rocky losing by split decision.
In the closing shot, Rocky returns home and visits Adrian's grave again to thank her for helping him, saying: "Yo Adrian, we did it". Adrian's tombstone is still at Laurel Hill Cemetery in the East Falls section of Philadelphia, just to the southeast of the main entrance.
- Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa, retired boxer and former two-time heavyweight champion.
- Burt Young as Paulie Pennino, Rocky's moody brother-in-law and best friend and Adrian's brother
- Milo Ventimiglia as Robert Balboa, Rocky's only son.
- Geraldine Hughes as Marie, a woman whom Rocky originally met over thirty years ago (as seen in the first installment of the movie series).
- James Francis Kelly III as Stephenson ("Steps"), Marie's son, whom Rocky befriends.
- Tony Burton as Tony "Duke" Evers, Rocky's trainer who has been his head cornerman since Balboa's second fight with James "Clubber" Lang in Rocky III. Duke previously trained Apollo Creed, who was Rocky's nemesis in the first two films and later became his friend and head trainer in the third and fourth films.
- Antonio Tarver as Mason "The Line" Dixon, Rocky's opponent. Dixon is shown as the current undisputed heavyweight champion of the world, but a fighter who is not shown the same respect as Rocky was when he was the world champion.
- Talia Shire as Adrian Balboa, was in the first few drafts of the script of what was originally called Rocky VI: Puncher's Chance. At this point, the story revolved around Rocky running a local gym for youths. However, Stallone felt that the film lacked the necessary emotional impact it needed. So, he and Shire came to an agreement that her character would be best left out of the film, as this would create an emotional chasm for Rocky from the very first moment of the film. To ensure that fans didn't think she'd been written out of the film because of a dispute with Stallone or because she refused to be in it, Shire made a public statement supporting Stallone's decision to kill off the character. Her character does not appear in the film except during flashbacks, using footage from earlier Rocky films, but she is still fully credited for the role in the final credits.
On December 13, 2006, it was officially announced by Ubisoft and MGM that a new Rocky video game, titled Rocky Balboa, was to be made exclusively for the PlayStation Portable handheld console. It was released on March 20, 2007, to coincide with the Blu-ray and DVD release. It received mostly negative reviews.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "Rocky Balboa (2006): Full Production Credits". New York Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/337682/Rocky-Balboa/credits. Retrieved March 28, 2012.
- ↑ numbers.com/movies/2006/RCKY6.php "Rocky Balboa". The Numbers. http://www.the- numbers.com/movies/2006/RCKY6.php. Retrieved June 15, 2009.
- ↑ Schwartz, Missy (December 14, 2006). "'Rocky' Road". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1570048,00.html. Retrieved June 15, 2009.
- ↑ Luce, Patrick (February 15, 2007). "Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa comes to DVD, PSP and Blu-ray in March". Monsters and Critics. http://www.monstersandcritics.com/dvd/news/article_1264409.php/Sylvester_Stallone%92s_Rocky_Balboa_comes_to_DVD_PSP_and_Blu-ray_in_March. Retrieved June 15, 2009.