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Featured Blu-ray review: Rocky - Digibook

June 1st, 2011

Rocky Blu-ray Digibook - Buy from Amazon

2011 is the 35th anniversary for Rocky, which is still widely considered one of the best boxing movies of all time, if not the best. So it's a great time to release a special edition Blu-ray? Right? Not exactly.

The Movie

Rocky Balboa is a boxer, but he fits in the lowest rung of the boxing ladder. He's not a contender, he's not even a professional opponent. He boxes in clubs for drunks to bet on. He has little chance of ever making a living at the sport, which is why he works for a man named Gazzo collecting debts. He's friends with Paulie, who works in a meat packing plant, but would rather have Rocky get him a job with Gazzo. Rocky is sweet on Paulie's sister, Adrian, but she's so shy that she won't even talk to him when he comes into the pet store where she works.

Under normal circumstances, the best he could hope for is to eke out a living while avoiding any serious injury in the ring, or while working with Gazzo. However, one day despite all that is working against him, he gets his big break thanks to Apollo Creed. Apollo Creed is the world champion boxer and an amazing self-promoter. (It's clear he was based on Muhammad Ali.) Apollo is in town for a championship match to celebrate the bi-centennial, but his opponent breaks his hand and will be forced to forfeit. Desperate to continue with the fight and not lose any of the money, but unable to find a top-ranked competitor willing to fight on such short notice, he comes up with an idea: Find a local unknown and give him a shot at the championship. While looking through a list of local fighters he comes across Rocky Balboa, who is listed with the nickname, 'The Italian Stallion'. Taking a liking to the name, he decides that this is the man he wants to fight. While most people don't think Rocky has a shot, he takes the fight seriously and under the training of Micky, the owner of the gym he trains at, he works his hardest. But even he doesn't think it will be enough to win, but maybe being underestimated is his greatest asset.

This is almost an auto-biographical movie with Sylvester Stallone playing himself, except Rocky is a boxer and not an actor. I think that this is the key to the film's success. Because the story is so close to Stallone's heart, it was easier for him to create such believable characters and dialogue, which elevated the script above its predictable elements and its basic wish-fulfillment storyline. Thanks to the impressive script, and the equally impressive performances, this film is truly a classic of the genre and is a boxing movie that even those who are not fans of the sport can enjoy.

The Extras

There are no extras on the Blu-ray. In fact, this Blu-ray is identical to the Blu-ray released in 2006 and re-released as part of the The Undisputed Collection in 2009. This also means the video and audio are starting to show their age. Granted, it is a low budget from from 1976, so you can't expect it to be as sharp looking as a first-run release would be today, but it was a massive hit, it was critically acclaimed, and earned several Oscars. It deserves a full remastering.

The Digibook comes with a booklet filled with images, essays, and bios. The packaging looks really nice, but not $21 nice.

The Movie

Rocky is one of the great boxing movies of all time, and it is certainly worth owning on Blu-ray. However, you can get the original Blu-ray release on Amazon for just over $10, and the full The Undisputed Collection for just $32. Either is a better deal than the Digibook, but the full collection is the way to go.

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Filed under: Video Review, Rocky