In my old guy continuing rant about “You kids these days don’t know what good movies are…”, I bring you an absolute classic from my childhood (1976). Rocky is the story of a down on his luck amateur fighter who is scraping out a living working in a processing factory, being an amateur boxer and a leg breaker for the local bookie in in Philly neighborhood. Times are tough is an accurate statement.
As a publicity stunt, the reigning Heavyweight Champ gives a local guy a shot at glory, never dreaming it would be a close contest. Apollo Creed is at the peak of his career, and seems virtually untouchable. Rocky doesn’t want the shot at first; he knows he is outmatched in the ring. But what he discovers is, he had just as much heart as the world champ, and maybe a little more.
Once Rocky finally commits to this, he trains and trains and trains to prepare. The classic scene of him getting up before daylight, drinking 12 raw eggs in a glass (don’t do that, by the way) and then running through the streets of Philadelphia. He works in a meat packing plant during the day, and in one scene in a moment of frustration starts punching the slabs of beef as they hang on the hook in the processing plant. It sort of becomes something he gets known for, and the local news shows up and films him doing this. Apollo’s coach takes notice, hearing Rocky’s southpaw punch breaking ribs in the frozen meat. Apollo is unconcerned; he is the champ and nothing is going to change that, at least in his mind.
Skipping to the end of the movie, the fight itself has arrived. Rocky is getting pummeled in the opening rounds, and looks every bit the part of a guy who does not belong in there with the champ. Apollo’s ego starts to get the best of him, and as he showboats and taunts Rocky, he gets hammered to the body by a left from out of nowhere. The champ is clearly hurt. Suddenly Rocky sees he actually has a shot at this, that Creed is just another man, standing toe to toe with him. Despite getting knocked down over and over, Rocky gets up and comes back for more. As the rounds add us, both men are now fighting exhaustion just as much as each other.
In a defining moment in the end of the fight, Rocky staggers back to his corner, and asks his coach to cut his eyebrow, draining the blood out so he can see to finish the fight. His coach doesn’t want to do it, or even let him continue. Meanwhile in the other corner Creed likely has broken ribs and is in serious trouble His coach wants to stop the fight. At about 7:00 minutes in to this clip, both fighters make the same statement to their coaches: “If you stop this fight, I’ll kill you”. THAT, my friends, is what is known as ALL IN. They both are going to see it through to the end, no matter what.
Spoiler Alert: Rocky loses the boxing match, but he gains the love of the crowd and the inner heart he never knew he had. This movie had so much impact on my life; I cannot tell you how many times I have watched it and I still get chills every time. I got chills writing about it! I am hard pressed to find a movie out the past few years that I think offers a similar message and possibly the same impact that this one had. I HIGHLY encourage you to check it out. It is SOUL FOOD for sure.
I recently saw a Rocky t-shirt when I was shopping somewhere and I bought it without even thinking twice. I wear it all the time. And if you think this one was good, wait til I get to Rocky III. Rocky’s wife steals the show with a powerful scene on the beach….