Most franchises don’t make it to a fifth installment for fear of outstaying their welcome and exhausting the goodwill of its fans. Sylvester Stallone saw no such problem with the incredibly successful Rocky Balboa character and happily churned out Rocky V.
Following Rocky’s (Stallone) success against he’s seemingly indestructible Russian opponent at the end of Rocky IV, he is diagnosed with brain damage. His life further deteriorates when he is forced to move back in with his family in Philadelphia after some less than stellar money management. As things look to be at their lowest ebb, Rocky opens Mickey’s old gymnasium and begins to train young boxer Tommy (Tommy Morrison) and sees enough potential for him to go all the way.
To say that Rocky V is the nadir of the series really is underselling just how miserable, depressing and poorly thought out it is. There are moments where it attempts to play along with the conventions of the Rocky franchise, but with no final fight of note, or proper training montages to speak of it becomes a war of attrition with the audience to see how much suffering they can take.
The character of Tommy is so two-dimensional and played with all the class and sophistication of a brick. His addition to Rocky’s rogue’s gallery emphasises just how far the films had fallen. Rocky IV, for all its jingoistic, nonsensical plot machinations, at least had the good grace to play to the stereotypes of a Rocky film .It didn’t do them well, but you can appreciate the effort. Perhaps in an attempt to redefine the series going forward, Rocky V just piles more and more misfortune on our hero until you can’t help that hope he just dies to end the suffering.
Sadly no such mercy kill happens and we’re left to watch Rocky drag his sorry carcass from scene to soul-crushing scene. At no point are we entertained and the acting is too poor to invest any deep emotional connection, which leaves Rocky V a husk of a blockbuster, with nothing notable, memorable or recommendable to anyone, especially fans of the series.