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Rocky V

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Rocky V

Rocky V
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John G. Avildsen
Produced by Robert Chartoff
Irwin Winkler
Written by Sylvester Stallone
Starring Sylvester Stallone
Talia Shire
Burt Young
Sage Stallone
Tommy Morrison
Richard Gant
Burgess Meredith
Music by Bill Conti
Alan Menken
Cinematography Steven B. Poster
Edited by John G. Avildsen
Robert A. Ferretti
Michael N. Knue
Distributed by MGM/UA Communications Company
(USA & Canada)
United International Pictures
Release dates
  • November 16, 1990 (1990-11-16)
Running time
104 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $42 million
Box office $119.9 million

Rocky V is a 1990 American sports drama film. The fifth film in the Rocky series, written by and starring Sylvester Stallone, and co-starring Talia Shire, Stallone's real life son Sage, and real life boxer Tommy Morrison, with Morrison in the role of Tommy Gunn, a talented yet raw boxer.[1] Sage played Robert Balboa, whose relationship with his famous father is explored. After Stallone directed the second through fourth films in the series, Rocky V saw the return of John G. Avildsen, whose direction of Rocky won him an Academy Award for Best Directing. It is also the only Rocky movie to be rated PG-13 while all the other films are PG.

Reception to the film was generally negative and it was (at the time) considered a very disappointing conclusion when this was presumed to be the last movie in the series. Stallone himself has since admitted that he too was disappointed with how the film turned out. The box office gross was at least $190 million below that of Rocky IV. Rocky V marked the final appearances of Talia Shire and Burgess Meredith in the Rocky series. Due to the low box office result, Rocky V was the last Rocky film with which United Artists had any involvement. Though this was presumed to be the ending of the series, Sylvester Stallone made the sixth film Rocky Balboa, which was released on December 20, 2006 which earned much more favorable reviews.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
    • Original ending 3.1
    • Continuity 3.2
    • Music 3.3
  • Reaction 4
    • Box office 4.1
    • Critical response 4.2
  • Sequel 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Shortly after

His bank confirms this, but they tell him the situation is easily fixable with a few more fights. Rocky contemplates on accepting Cane's challenge, but after discovering he has sustained permanent brain damage from the fight with Drago and at Adrian's insistence, Rocky retires from boxing. He is thus forced to file for bankruptcy, have his mansion and belongings auctioned off, and move his family back to his old Philadelphia neighborhood. The only property he keeps is Mighty Mick's Boxing Gym, which his late trainer Mickey had willed to his son. Adrian returns to working part-time at J&M Tropical Fish pet shop, while Paulie goes back to the Shamrock Meat Packing plant. Rocky visits Mickey's gym and reminisces about a training session between the two just before Rocky fight with Apollo Creed years before, where Mickey gave him Rocky a cufflink given to him by Rocky Marciano.

One day, Rocky and Paulie meet a hungry young fighter from Oklahoma named Tommy Gunn, and Rocky takes him under his wing. Training the young fighter gives Rocky a sense of purpose, and Tommy fights his way up the ladder to become a top contender. Rocky eventually becomes so distracted with Tommy's training that he winds up neglecting Robert, who becomes withdrawn and angry. He falls in with the wrong crowd at school and as a result, he begins acting out at home. Meanwhile, Tommy's impressive rise through the ranks catches the eye of Duke, who uses the promise of a heavyweight title shot against the newly crowned champion Cane to lure him away from Rocky. Duke also exploits the fact that Rocky does not have any contractual obligation to manage Tommy.

On Christmas Eve, Duke visits the Balboa house with Tommy in tow, who has now been deceived into thinking that Rocky does not have his best interests in mind. When Rocky tries to talk him out of siding with Duke, Tommy drives off in a huff, leaving Rocky for good. Adrian attempts to comfort Rocky, but his frustrations finally boil over. He confesses his life had meaning again when he was able to live vicariously through Tommy's success. She reasons with him, telling him Tommy never had his heart and spirit—something he could never learn. When this realization hits him, Rocky embraces his wife and they begin to pick up the pieces. After finding Robert hanging out on a street corner, Rocky apologizes to his son and they mend their broken relationship.

Tommy wins the heavyweight title by knocking out Cane in the first round, but is booed by spectators and hounded by reporters after the fight. They insist Cane was nothing but a "paper champion", because Cane did not win the title from Balboa. Therefore, the public would never consider Tommy the real champion unless he fights a worthy opponent, like Rocky; they drive the point home when one reporter announces, "...he's no Rocky Balboa!" With Tommy enraged by the press's reaction, Duke convinces Tommy he needs to fight Rocky man to man. Duke and Tommy show up at the local bar to goad Rocky into accepting a fight. Rocky declines the challenge and Tommy calls him weak prompting Paulie to stand up for Rocky but provoking Tommy into punching Paulie and Rocky in anger immediately Rocky challenges Tommy to a street fight on the spot.

Despite Duke's warnings to keep the fight in the ring, Tommy accepts. During the fight, Rocky is eventually beaten down by Tommy and is seemingly out for the count. He then hears the voice of Mickey urging him to get up and get back in the fight, to go just "one more round". Rocky gets back up and, utilizing his vast street fighting knowledge as Robert, Paulie and the crowd root for him, is able to knock out his former protégé. While Tommy is escorted away by the police, Duke threatens to sue Rocky if he touches him, but after a brief hesitation, a penniless Rocky knocks him onto the hood of a car and quips, "Sue me for what?"

The next morning, Rocky and Robert take a jog to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Rocky gives his son Rocky Marciano's cufflink, given to him years ago as a gift from Mickey. The film ends with a shot of Rocky's statue looking out over the Philadelphia skyline.


The film contains cameos by several sportswriters and boxing analysts, most notably Al Bernstein, Stan Hochman and Al Meltzer, as well as sportscaster Stu Nahan, who was the ringside announcer in the original Rocky film and has been the ring announcer in every movie, save the sixth movie.

Rocky's priest friend Father Carmine (Paul Micale) makes his second of two appearances in the Rocky series, the first being in Rocky II.

The character "Tommy Gunn" was played by John "The Duke" Wayne.

Michael Williams, who plays Union Cane, was also a real-life boxer. He and Morrison were to have an actual match about a month after Rocky V was released, but had to be canceled when Williams was hurt. The match was being hyped as "The Real Cane vs. Gunn Match."

Jodi Letizia, who played street kid Marie in the original Rocky (1976), was supposed to reprise her role. Her character was shown to have ended up as Rocky predicted she would: a prostitute, but the scene ended up on the cutting room floor. Although she can briefly be seen during the street fight at the end, the character would eventually reappear in Rocky Balboa (2006), as a bartender and confidante to the aging Rocky. Actress Geraldine Hughes took over the role.

Kevin Connolly, who gained success as Eric Murphy on HBO's Entourage, was in his first acting role as neighborhood bully Chickie.


Some of the fight sequences were filmed at The Blue Horizon in Philadelphia, a venue which was a mecca for boxing in the city during the 1970s.

Scenes with Mickey, played by Burgess Meredith, were trimmed in the final film when Rocky fights Tommy. Mickey appeared in ghost form on top of the railway bridge, giving words of encouragement. In the final film, this was made into flashbacks. The speech Mickey gives to Rocky in the flashback sequence is based on an interview with Cus D'Amato given in 1985, shortly after Mike Tyson's first professional bout.

The image of Gunn's first professional fight, the pullback from the mural of Jesus over the boxing ring, mirrors the opening shot of the first Rocky movie. Adrian goes back to working at the pet shop she first worked at in the original Rocky.

The golden glove necklace featured so prominently in this film was first seen in Rocky II (worn by Apollo Creed), then again throughout Rocky III and IV. As a promotional gimmick, replicas of the necklace were distributed to moviegoers at the Hollywood premiere of Rocky V at Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

The famous red, white and blue boxing trunks first worn by Apollo Creed in his fight with Rocky in the first film make their fifth and final appearance in this film. Rocky's leather coat introduced in Rocky makes its third and final appearance in the franchise at the start of the movie.

The James J. Corbett, James J. Braddock, and Floyd Patterson.

According to Stallone, pro wrestling legend Terry Funk helped choreograph much of the street fight between Rocky and Tommy Gunn.

Original ending

In the original script, Rocky is killed during the final fight with Tommy, dying in Adrian's arms in the street.[2] Through most of the filming and production, this was to be the outcome; it wasn't until the film was nearing completion that Stallone decided against Rocky's death and went with the current ending. According to him, the director and the studio had second thoughts. Eventually, Stallone rewrote the ending, saying that he decided to change it because Rocky was supposed to be about perseverance and redemption, and having him die in a street brawl would be against the roots of the series.


In the ensuing years following the film's release, Stallone acknowledged that the injury Rocky suffers subsequently forcing him to retire, referenced in the film as a potentially lethal form of 'brain damage', was inaccurate.[3] Stallone stated that having discussed the story with many boxing medical professionals, the injury Rocky suffered was a milder form of brain damage, similar to that of a long term concussion that many boxers suffer from and by modern day standards are still able to gain licenses to box and would not have prevented Rocky from gaining a license to box nor killed him.[4]

Rocky Balboa names Burton's character, "Duke Evers". Most fans take this to imply that his name is Tony 'Duke' Evers.

Sage Stallone, Sylvester's real life son, portrays his character's son in the film. However, in Rocky IV he was portrayed as a 9 year old child whereas Sage was 15 at the time of filming, making him a teenager in this film despite Rocky V taking place just days after Rocky IV.


The soundtrack album is not the original motion picture score, but rather has music from and inspired by the film. This soundtrack features Joey B. Ellis, MC Hammer, 7A3, MC Tab, Rob Base, and Bill Conti. Most of the soundtrack album contains rap music, rather than the Bill Conti score. Also, two of the scores from Rocky IV were featured in this film's trailer, but were not present in the actual film. "Measure of a Man" was written by Alan Menken and performed by Elton John.

Like Rocky IV, a full version of "Gonna Fly Now" with lyrics is not heard in the film. However an instrumental horn version is played during the early scene where Rocky gets off the airplane, and at the end of the movie after Rocky defeats Tommy, another instrumental version is heard.


Box office

Anticipated to be one of the big hits of the 1990 holiday season, Rocky V finished second in its opening weekend to Home Alone and never recovered.[5] The film earned $14 million on its opening weekend and $40 million in total US box-office sales, about one-third of its predecessor's take. Rocky V however made almost twice as much overseas and thereby a total of $119.9 million worldwide.

Critical response

In addition to its disappointing numbers at the box office, Rocky V has a 26% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film departed from the standard Rocky formula on display in the previous four films, which made it extremely unpopular with the audiences that had been drawn to the previous sequels. Stallone himself has gone on record in agreeing that he wasn't satisfied with the finished product, saying "I wanted to finish the series on a high and emotional note, and Rocky V didn't do that." He also faced critique over the decision to bring John G. Avilsden back to direct the film having done the first, as opposed to directing the film himself as he had done with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th installments. Stallone claimed that he wanted to work an easier schedule than what he had done previously, and therefore had less input on the film's production as well as post-production. Criticism was also drawn from the film's ending, claiming following Stallone's last minute decision not to kill Rocky, the film's build-up and narrative was lost.

It was also nominated for seven Golden Raspberry Awards in 1990 including Worst Picture, Worst Actor and Worst Screenplay for Stallone, Worst Actress for Shire, Worst Supporting Actor for Young, Worst Director for Avildsen and Worst Original Song for "The Measure of a Man".

On July 8, 2010, in an interview with The Sun, Stallone was interviewed about the Rocky films. When he came to Rocky V, Stallone replied he made it out of greed.[6]

Nonetheless, Stallone was still praised for his performance and the film received some positive feedback from some fans, with the Los Angeles Times regarding it as the best of the Rocky sequels.[7]


As a result of, and in response to, Rocky V's poor box office performance (and the general dissatisfaction with the end of the franchise), sixteen years later, Stallone wrote, directed and starred in Rocky Balboa, the sixth chapter to the saga. The sixth film was an attempt to redeem the character for a final chance to come back as a hero again, and do the story justice by bringing it full circle; as for Rocky's ability to fight again, Stallone suggested that advances in medical science during the period between the films had shown that the injuries mentioned in Rocky V were less debilitating than once thought, and that he would receive a "clean bill of health" today. It succeeded by grossing over $70 million at the US box office as well, and $85 million abroad, and getting largely positive reviews from both fans and critics.[4]


  1. ^ Berger, Phil (November 15, 1989). "'"Film Flam for 'Rocky. New York Times. Retrieved 2010-08-12. 
  2. ^ Hasted, Nick (1997-12-05). "He could have been a contender". London: Independent. Retrieved 2010-10-29. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Moriaty (December 1, 2006). "Round One With Sylvester Stallone Q&A!!".  
  5. ^ Broeske, Pat H. (1990-11-20). Home' KOs 'Rocky V' at Box Office"'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-29. 
  6. ^ Rollings, Grant. "Sylvester Stallone gives his most candid interview ever". The Sun (London). Retrieved 2010-10-29. 
  7. ^ Wilmington, Michael (1990-11-16). "MOVIE REVIEW : A Kinder, Gentler Rocky Balboa : Of Sylvester Stallone's 'Rocky' sequels, No. 5 comes closest to some of the endearing qualities associated with the first.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-10-29. 

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