The Rocky: Knockout Collection includes Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV and the director’s cut, Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago. Some of the legacy features were included except for the feature-length documentary…
Rocky: The Knockout Collection
Genre(s): Drama, Sports
Studio Distribution Services | NR – 524 min. – $79.99 | February 28, 2023
Date Published: 03/24/2023 | Author: The Movieman
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.
THE MOVIE — 4/5
|Rocky (1976) — Rocky Balboa (SYLVESTER STALLONE), a small-time boxer from working-class Philadelphia, is arbitrarily chosen to take on the reigning world heavyweight champion, Apollo Creed (CARL WEATHERS), when the undefeated fighter’s scheduled opponent is injured. While training with feisty former bantamweight contender Mickey Goldmill (BURGESS MEREDITH), Rocky tentatively begins a relationship with Adrian (TALIA SHIRE), the wallflower sister of his meat-packer pal Paulie (BURT YOUNG).
Quick Hit Review: Perfect from beginning to end, the first Rocky films is brilliantly executed with excellent fight scenes and fine performances from all involved. Story wise it’s the age old underdog tale and that final boxing match is pure genius. Not going to lie, I did shed a tear when it was over. 5/5
Rocky II (1979) — Although working-class Philadelphia boxer Rocky Balboa (STALLONE) lost his high-profile bout with the cocky world champion Apollo Creed (WEATHERS), his Cinderella story has caught the national sports media’s attention, and he now has the opportunity to capitalize on his sudden fame. Meanwhile, Creed is still smarting from nearly losing to some palooka no one has ever heard of, and arrogantly prods his newfound nemesis into getting back into the ring.
QHR: Not quite as good as the first and rehashes the story, this sequel still was really good and Stallone, who also sat in the director’s chair, has solid acting especially from Stallone and Weathers and as in the first film, the boxing matches are well choreographed and in terms of story, does offer both insight as well as growth for Balboa. 4/5
Rocky III (1982) — Having become the world heavyweight champion, former working-class boxer Rocky Balboa (STALLONE) is rich and famous beyond his wildest dreams, which has made him lazy and overconfident. In a double whammy, he loses his trainer and father figure Mickey (MEREDITH) and then has his title stolen by the arrogant, menacing challenger Clubber Lang (MR. T). Turning to his former adversary, Apollo Creed (WEATHERS), for help, Rocky struggles to get his old fire back.
QHR: Another step down yet still a fine entry in the series attempts to give an emotional angle with Mickey’s death leading to Rocky’s withdrawal and losing, pardon me for saying this, the eye of the tiger. I did enjoy the banter between Weathers’ Apollo Creed as he trains Rocky to go up against the seemingly ferocious and all around jackass Clubber Lang (played by Mr. T). We also get a fun and yet strange sequence as Rocky wrestles with Thunderlips (Hulk Hogan) who goes crazy on the crowd. 3½/5
Rocky IV (1985) — After reclaiming the boxing championship title, Rocky Balboa STALLONE) plans to retire and live with his wife, Adrian (SHIRE). However, during an exhibition match, Rocky’s friend Apollo Creed (WEATHERS) is mercilessly beaten to death by hulking Russian newcomer Ivan Drago (DOLPH LUNDGREN). Rocky vows payback against Drago and flies to Russia to train for a Christmas Day fight. Despite their different training methods, Rocky and Drago both wage a long and intense match. 3¼/5
QHR: Certainly one of the weirder entries that began with Rocky for some bizarre reason getting Rosie the Robot to Pauley for his birthday and the way the scene was filmed, it’s like we got lost and wandered into a different movie that so happens to star Stallone as a character named Rocky Balboa. In any case, once we get beyond that, we’re introduced to Drago (Dolph Lundgren) and perhaps one of the best lines with “I must break you”. Otherwise, it’s a fine sequel but it’s clear the series is on the decline at this point.
And making its physical media debut as it was only recently released is Rocky IV: Rocky vs. Drago which is a director’s cut from Stallone and removes the silliness of the theatrical version (i.e. the robot) and trims it down to a leaner feature film. Still not great and at times a tad awkward with the editing, I did like this version a bit more. 3½/5
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3/5
This 5-disc set comes housed in a black HD keep case with a side-sliding slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital HD copy of all five films (including Rocky vs. Drago). The fifth disc contains featurettes on Blu-ray. None of these films are available on Blu-ray.
Audio Commentaries (Rocky):
8MM Home Movies of Rocky (1975) (8:13) – Narrated by Director John G. Avildsen and Production Manager Lloyd Kaufman, we get some cool footage.
Three Rounds with Legendary Trainer Lou Duva (4:31) – This is an interview with the man who relays his philosophy about training and how it was done back then and today.
Steadicam: Then and Now (17:35) – Cinematographer Garrett Brown, the inventor of the steadicam, talking about his time working on Rocky and some test footage of the cam.
Make Up!: The Art and Form with Michael Westmore (15:18) – The make-up designer chats about his work on Rocky.
Staccato: The Composer’s Notebook with Bill Conti (11:37) covers the iconic score and theme and how it came about.
The Ring of Truth (9:35) has Art Director James Spencer discussing dressing up the sets and on-locations shooting.
Tribute to Burgess Meredith (7:47) honors the legendary actor.
Stallone Meets Rocky (2:59) is a dumb stunt with the side-by-side footage with Stallone the actor chatting it up with Stallone as Rocky Balboa. A real waste of time.
The Making of Rocky vs. Drago (58:29) shows how Stallone compiled his director’s cut of Rocky IV and the decisions made on what to remove and add. Apparently this is available on YouTube and is 30 minutes longer than the one presented here… Yikes.
Last up are Trailers for all five films.
NOT INCLUDED: Tribute to James Crabe , Interview with a Legend, “The Opponents”, In the Ring (hour-long documentary), Behind the Scenes with John G. Avildsen, Video Commentary, Sylvester Stallone on Dianh. The lack of that documentary is especially disappointing.
VIDEO – 4¼/5, AUDIO – 4/5
|All of the four Rocky movies (in this collection) are presented in their original aspect ratios and each given 2160p high-definition transfers. From my memory, these movies already looked pretty good, detail on each was sharp and colors nicely balanced. There were no apparent blemishes, dust marks or other flaws. I can’t quite say these were outstanding transfers however.
Rocky — Not sure if the track is new or not, but for my ears, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is good shining through for the theme and score while the boxing scenes sound quite good and robust with the roaring crowds. It’s not the most dynamic track but it’s impressive enough. 4/5
Rocky II-IV — The sequels all receive a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and although none are remarkable, each one does sound decent enough and like with the first movie, the theme and songs (“Eye of the Tiger”) come through well enough. The LFE channel in 2-4 don’t kick in very often for the fight scenes, there’s some depth there. 4/5
OVERALL — 3/5
Overall, I’m giving this set a lower rating because I don’t know why this wasn’t the complete Rocky collection with Rocky V and Rocky Balboa. In addition, the hour-long documentary was left off.
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