Saturday, February 18, 2006

On Rocky And the Underdog

*Spoiler alert* for someone who's not seen the movie and cares to not know the ending to a non-thriller with a non-Shyamalanesque twist.

Rocky is one of cinema's big cliché movies. The story of the underdog who overcame the odds to become something bigger than himself. The backstory of the movie itself is similar, with Stallone pushing the script door-to-door, refusing to make the movie unless he got to be Rocky as well. The story to trump all stories, the movie won multiple Oscars, including Oscars for Best Film and Director, and nominations for Stallone for the screenplay and (gulp) for his acting. Rocky got so crazy that there were eventually five Rocky movies. Stallone went on to become a billionaire, giving us other classics like the Rambo series and some really bad acting too.

When I first saw the movie, I was underwhelmed. There was a bit to the tale, but I didn't see much. One of the explanations that me and my friend (whom I saw the movie with) could muster for the success and resonance of the movie was that it was arguably a function of the times. The late 70s with a bad economy and the movie symbolized hope for the underdog in some ways. Maybe in the more prosperous '0s, that wasn't so true anymore, and we couldn't (and could never) 'get' the movie.

I was wrong. Even as I think back to the movie now, it (the movie) makes more and more sense. Part of it is arguably that I've grown older and seen more of life since then. The character-building itself is one thing, but what holds the key to the film is the last, actual boxing match. The night before the match, Rocky says to Adrian, "Cause all I wanna do is go the distance."

Then of course, there's the fight. Even as Apollo pummels Rocky, he just keeps coming back, doesn't he? He really shows no sign of giving up. He does go the full distance to lose on points. What matters there is the fact that he goes the distance. Every blow that he gets, he manages to get up again, ready to fight.

Like Simon and Garfunkel sing poignantly,(not about Rocky, though this could apply)

In the clearing stands a boxer, and a fighter by his trade
And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down or cut him
’til he cried out in his anger and his shame
I am leaving, I am leaving, but the fighter still remains
Yes he still remains

Hell, yeah. Rocky's my hero. Now, if only they hadn't made those sequels...


Slyce said...

The ROCKY sequels all fit. Even tho #4 is not my fave, I watch it anyway just for the Sly factor, ya know? Yes, the original is the best but who could blame an actor for going with what works?!

Come visit my blog for as much Sly/Rocky info as you can stand!
And while living your life, just "go for it"!

- Slyce

Ajay said...

As sequels go, some of the Rocky sequels are pretty good, yes. I thought Rocky II was pretty decent, as was IV. V was IMO the worst. I haven't seen III.I admit, maybe I was being a bit harsh there.Compared to some other sequels, some of these stand as true classics.