Re-watching the movie now as a forty year-old I feel the need to write a Rocky V Review and Rewrite. I’ve always despised this movie as the worst of the Rocky film franchise, but rewatching it now, it occurs to me that aside from the ending, it’s a pretty good movie - and a better ending isn’t hard to imagine.
The movie ends - spoiler alert - with a fifteen minute street fight between Rocky Balboa and the young upstart Tommy “the machine” Gunn, whom Rocky has spent the entire movie training and mentoring - at the expense of his own time, dime, and his relationship with his own wife and son. Rocky has had to declare bankruptcy due to his brother-in-law signing away power of attorney to a manipulative accountant. Mentoring Gunn becomes a bright hope in an otherwise now bleak post-boxing career. With Gunn’s success however, come new temptations and new agents in his corner, eventually pitting the young fighter against his old mentor, showing up at his neighborhood bar to pubically challenge him to a fight.
Rocky takes the bate, and a fifteen minute street fight ensues - a bold 1990’s music-video slash video game style bloodbath on the streets. Abandoning any attempt at morals otherwise displayed throughout the Rocky franchise, the epitomes character straightens everything out by beating up his young protege - but only by barely surviving the brutal fight himself. Then, as if no major bloody assault was just committed, the film ends with Rocky and his son joyously running past the Rocky statue at Philadelphia’s Museum of Art to see the Picasso paintings inside.
Before I get into my re-imagined version of the endng… According to what I found on the internet, those involved in writing and creating Rocky V had their own disagreements about the Jean Claude Van Dam style climax they chose. Apparently Stallone wrote an ending in which Rocky dies in the final fighting scene with Gunn. Too macabre for early 90s action audiences, that ending was then toned down into the what became the movie’s ending, in some sort of industry compromise. As much as the ending they went with sucked, and as bad as it was for the Rocky film franchise quality overall, Imagine now, how different would it be had Stalllone really chosen the ending that killed Rocky at the end of that 1993 fifth movie? Not only would the 2008 installment (Rocky Balkboa) never be, but the entire Creed franchise which has struck up since would never exist either.
Finally, for my rewrite of the Rocky V ending which would totally work with the rest of the Rocky franchise storyline… a very simple, easy fix that would make this movie into a tolerable, if not wonderful movie, would be: change the 15 minute street fight into a 10 minute heated argument ending with a five minute heart to heart between the mentor champ and his overzealous young protege. Basically all of the dialogue could remain exactly the same, just removing the gratuitous punching and ending with tears, a hug, and maybe even an apology between either, or both, of the two ego-heavy boxing champions. With a crowd of onlookers staring at the two champion boxers about to throw-down, the two men choose instead to overlook their feelings toward one another, achieving peace over conflict. A kid then interrupts the two champion boxers to ask both to autograph a newspaper article about their boxing achievements and their dispute. Rocky obliges with a signature, looks at the kid and says, “What dispute? This guy is the champion of the world,” and then hands the item to Gunn for him to sign as well. The camera pans back to show a line of young and admiring autograph seekers awaiting their chance to talk to the boxing legend Balboa and the new young champ of the moment, whom he trained. The end.
Woodrow Pack Landfair is the Adventure Correspondent for HighTides Journal and the author of the semi-autobiographical novel Land Of The Free (Harbinger Book Group, 2014), about an indefinite 48 state motorcycle journey he began in 2006, and about the personal challenges fought years afterward while pursuing a life of artistic and professional freedom on the road. Three years after his first book's publication, in 2017, Pack purchased El Porto Surf Shop (the #1 surf rental shop in Mainland USA) and moved to El Porto, California to surf and write every day.
Partially inspired by El POorto Surf Shop's many international customers, Pack is currently pursuing a personal goal to surf every coastal nation on planet Earth - as a means of seeing the world, learning different philosophies, and making friends across the globe. The first 19 countries of that journey are the subject of Pack's second book Here To Surf Vol. 1 in bookstores December 2024.
Pack is a graduate of the University of Texas where he studied English Literature on full academic scholarship from the United States Navy ROTC, and was the only walk-on member of the 2005 College World Series Champion Texas Longhorn baseball team - among several soon-to-be major leaguers. At the University of Texas, Pack earned Midshipman of the Month, Student-Athlete of the Month, Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll, served on the Student-Athlete Advisory Council, made three trips to the College World Series, and was twice voted Teammate Of The Year by his teammates.