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The Definitive ROCKY Movie Ranking

With Michael B. Jordan stepping into the ring for Creed, a spin off from Sylvester Stallone‘s original Rocky series, we here at MoviePass thought it was high time to binge watch every Rocky movie and see which film is the definitive Rocky movie that stands up above the best. Check out my list below.

6. Rocky V (1990)

Photo via MGM/UA Entertainment

Everyone’s favorite movie to throw under the bus and bad talk. This movie tries to speak to all demographics, from the older generation, who first saw Rocky with his trademark black hat and leather jacket, to the younger, portrayed by his son becoming one of the punk kids who hangs out in front of the store that Rocky walks by. Unfortunately, it falls flat.

Mickey coming back to help Rocky get his head on straight is something the series needed to address in what was to be the series’ swan song (at least for this decade). There aren’t enough moments to make this a must watch for all Rocky fans, but there are a few things you’ll be happy to see.

5. Rocky IV (1985)

Photo via MGM/UA Entertainment

Rocky, now a household name, seems to have finally given up on boxing. Apollo Creed has grown tired of his non-fighting life and finally gets back in the ring and dies at the hands of the machine-like Russian Ivan Drago. Rocky goes off to train in Russia to avenge Creed in what could have been a moment that ruined the character, but it ultimately rings true when he wins a fight he probably shouldn’t have won in the first place.

There are a ton of great moments: pretty much every time Drago speaks, Rocky’s awesome lumberjack beard, and the final fight, which seems to ruin Rocky for the rest of his life (or at least until the next movie).

4. Rocky III (1982)

Photo via MGM/UA Entertainment

The underdog Balboa has become a star and has lost his spark. Finally seeing the time to return, Rocky has to face one more person. Mr. T. as Clubber Lang is awesome. Totally believable. But what makes this one stand out is not the friendship that develops between Rocky and Apollo but its Mickey’s death that really makes this film matter. Can he do it without Mickey in his corner? The amount of movies in this franchise pretty much answers these questions. He can and he does.

In a fun twist at the end, Rocky and Apollo have a friendly rematch, which doesn’t have a clear outcome and is up for debate (which you can weigh in on in the comments below if you’ve got an idea).

3. Rocky Balboa (2006)

Photo via MGM/Columbia

In the same ways Rocky V tried to bring the character back to his roots, Rocky Balboa gets it right. Adrian has recently died and Rocky opened up a restaurant and named it after her. It all feels right. The character has aged but he doesn’t feel cartoonish like he did in Rocky V.

There’s a big fight, he doesn’t win, but, echoing the original, that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to see the underdog prove the world wrong once again. And it’s hard not to get chills once that training montage starts.

2. Rocky II (1979)

Photo via United Artists

Granted, the first sequel certainly diverts away from the things that made the original Rocky pack the punch it initially did. But Rocky grows up in this one; he becomes a father, a husband, and wins. The fight between Rocky and Apollo this time is intense and even comes down to both parties barely being able to stand.

The movie ends with the best line in the entire franchise where the underdog, beaten and bloodied, becomes more than an underdog. “Yo Adrian, I did it!” You need to see this one.

1. Rocky (1976)

Photo via United Artists

There’s an honesty in this one that each Rocky movie after it has been trying to replicate. It sets up the main character as hopeless and not even really all that nice. Rocky doesn’t start out as the hero; he starts out as a loan shark and a bum, but all that changes when Rocky gets a chance at the heavyweight title and meets a girl he falls for.

Does he win? Do you need to add a “spoiler alert” 40 years after release? The answer is no (to both questions), and in this first film and a few of the other ones, it’s more about being able to do your best against all the odds than it is about winning and having the fairy tale ending. If you haven’t seen this film, do yourself a favor, go see it, and invite your friends.

Here’s hoping Creed matches up to its predecessors.

What do you think is the definitive list of Rocky movies? Leave a comment down below on what you think.

4 thoughts on “The Definitive ROCKY Movie Ranking Leave a comment

  1. Umm…Rocky clearly says who won that 3rd fight between him and Apollo Creed in CREED when Adonis first comes to Adrian’s Restaurant. Watch the film to hear him say who because I’m not going to spoil it here. 🙂

  2. Just saw “Creed” and it was very enjoyable. The lead kid is excellent and Sly slips into Rocky like a comfy glove. Terrific character development, and no false beats. I thought “Rocky Balboa” was great. A fitting end to the saga. I was nervous that this was a bad, money grabbing idea. I was very wrong. And the director is one to watch. Good pacing, editing and most importantly, story telling. See it.

    P.S. you list and comments are right on!!

    • Haven’t gotten a chance to see it. Cant wait to see it, I`ve heard nothing but good things. Thanks for the read as well!

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