Lets layout some ground rules here. Firstly Smaltz doesn’t like boxing. Fighting with rules is still fighting. Secondly, I’ve seen only Rocky 2 (rather good) and 3 (why does everyone like this one so much?). Smaltz knows as much about Rocky as Borman knows about womenfolk.
So with this less than ideal starting point I dubiously sat down to watch Balboa. To my delight the film turns out to be well thought out and a sensitive look at a man with a broken life. He has lost his wife, and his son has become somewhat distant. He finds a purpose in running a local taverna. He also discovers a desire to fight again in small local competitions.
The turning point of the story sounds dubious; a computer simulation shows that Rocky in his prime would beat the current heavy weight champ. This is surprisingly well handled and sparks interest from the ‘champ's’ management.
This sets up Rocky’s last fight and boy the old man’s still got it…Stallone that is. His abs are more ripped than Borman's trousers and his shoulders are the size of Catherine’s wheel. The final is an epic and authentic struggle that is spectacularly edited, weaving flashbacks with a cleverly inserted black frame to show a brief loss of consciousness.
Yes there is the 'pounded chicken' line which I know is a personal favourite of Narry’s. To be fair this is how the yanks make TV. I mean, who else would use 80’s guitar rock as an accompaniment to golf? Besides Rocky has always thrived on a bit of cheese. Considering this is the ending it is very well judged and provides excellent closure to the series.
Maybe I am a Rocky fan after all.
Rating: Top Work!