'Rocky' through the years

Published 1832 GMT (0232 HKT) November 24, 2015
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In the beginning, there was 1976's "Rocky," the film about a struggling boxer whose "whole life was a million-to-one shot." So was the film, starring and written by the then-unknown Sylvester Stallone. But in a year that also featured "Network" and "All the President's Men," "Rocky" took home best picture at the Oscars, was a huge box office hit and spawned a number of sequels, leading up to the new "Creed." MGM
"Rocky" ended with Stallone's Rocky Balboa going the distance but losing to champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). There wasn't going to be a rematch, but perhaps Stallone's post-"Rocky" career -- "F.I.S.T." and "Paradise Alley" -- prompted a 1979 sequel. This time, Rocky emerged victorious. MGM
Life at the top made Rocky soft, so when Clubber Lang (Mr. T) came along in 1982's "Rocky III," he wasn't ready and was knocked out. ("What's your prediction?" Lang is asked about the fight. "Pain," he replies.) However, thanks to the training of old rival Apollo Creed -- and the soon-to-be ubiquitous song "Eye of the Tiger" -- Rocky got in shape again and got revenge on Lang. MGM
By the mid-'80s, Stallone had developed another franchise, the Rambo movies, making him a huge action hero -- and like Rambo, Rocky was now an all-American symbol of the Reagan years. In 1985's "Rocky IV," the boxer took on the USSR's Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) after Drago killed his pal Creed in the ring. Not only did Rocky win, "Rocky IV" was the biggest box office hit of the entire series. MGM
By 1990's "Rocky V," the 44-year-old Stallone had Rocky retire, taking on training of young boxers. (The boxer had also gone bankrupt after poor investments and non-payment of taxes.) Among the up-and-comers is Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison). Gunn has some success, but it all inevitably leads up to a match against his suddenly un-retired rival, who pulls off an upset. The film also starred Stallone's son, Sage. A relatively poor box office performance kept Rocky in mothballs for 16 years. MGM
Many characters were gone by 2006's "Rocky Balboa," which found the now-aging boxer taking on Mason "The Line" Dixon (Antonio Tarver) in a fight of youth vs. experience. His wife, Adrian (Talia Shire), died a few years earlier; Creed and trainer Mickey Goldmill are long passed. (Paulie -- played by Burt Young -- is still hanging on.) The film, more bittersweet than recent "Rocky" editions, did well at the box office and was generally praised by critics. MGM
The latest chapter, "Creed," opens November 25. Now, the focus is on Apollo's son Adonis (Michael B. Jordan), who seeks out Rocky to help him with his own boxing career. Early reviews have been laudatory; the film has in excess of 90% approval on RottenTomatoes. Warner Bros Pictures