The Rocky Balboa Training Montages

It’s about time we compare the training montages from Rocky I-IV

Rocky: the rags to riches story of a Italian-American boxer, who overcomes a debilitating speech impediment to lose his shot at the heavyweight title. Or at least that was the plot to the first movie. Everyone knows Rocky; it’s one of the great boxing movies of all times, up there with Raging Bull, Million Dollar Baby, and Ali.

Now the best part about the Rocky movies is the training montages, where all dialogue cuts out and the theme song is blared over footage of Stallone working out. It’s in every Rocky movie, so I thought, why not rate them on our usual scale from one to four trapeziuses.

Rocky I (1976)

This is the original Rocky training montage; the one that created a legend. We get Rocky running along train tracks outside Philly and past dumpster fires on the mean streets. He’s doing one-arm pushups. He’s taking gut punches. And in turn, punching hunks of meat hanging from hooks. Finally, there’s the iconic run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It’s a perfect scene. Philadelphians liked it so much they put a Rocky statue there. I’m giving this: 4 out of 4 trapeziuses.

Rocky II (1979)

I’m not going to lie, it looks like Stallone borrowed much of this sequence from Rocky I. It’s a little disappointing. There are a few novelties. Rocky is whacking garbage with a sledge hammer (intriguing concept), doing one arm pull ups, and squat jumps with a log on his back. And it’s kind of cool watching him go on the run again, but with the whole city chasing after him. Never the less, one wishes for some novelty here. Also, the burning trash on the Philadelphia streets pops up again-- can someone get the municipal authorities to fix that? It’s been three years since Rocky I. Okay, here’s my score: 2 out of 4 trapeziuses.

Rocky III (1982)

Apollo Creed joins the training shenanigans in the third iteration of Rocky. Balboa is out of Philly now and on the beautiful beaches of Los Angeles. The dynamic between Creed and Rocky is great in this one. At first, Creed is dancing around him and winning their scenic races along the beach. Gradually, Rocky improves. We’ve got scenes in the pool, in the ring, around the speed bag, and in front of the mirror. There’s great variety and some tasteful quad footage while they run. When Rocky finally beats Creed in a footrace, he lets out a great huzzah and then the pair hug in the water like eight year old girls. It’s great. And by the way, Stallone looks like he put on fifteen pounds of muscle in between the second and the third film. This deserves 3.5 out of 4 trapeziuses.

Rocky IV (1985)

Rocky winds up in the snow covered plains of Siberia in this training scene, which is intertwined with Ivan Drago lifting computers in a Soviet laboratory. The concept is great and the execution is equally superb. This is old school American toughness versus Soviet science and machinery. Basically, every exercise Rocky does is performed by Drago with better equipment. When Rocky pulls a sled, Drago is one of those fancy ski machines. When Rocky is doing pull ups from the ceiling, Drago is shooting up steroids. This is great. At the end, Rocky literally scales a mountain. He’s like two thousand feet in the air without water, rope, or granola. This is everything you’d want in an eighties movie. It’s raw-raw and fast paced. There’s synth-heavy music. The Cold War is in the background. Stallone is wearing a leather jacket while working out. This is as good as Rocky I, probably even better. I’m giving it 4 out of 4 trapeziuses.

Football was meant to be played in leather helmets and sweaters. Currently taking suggestions for which NHL team I should support.

Twitter: @IshFarooqui