Blu-Ray Review: Rocky Balboa Fights His Way to ‘Undisputed Collection’

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CHICAGO – There are very few characters as iconic as Rocky Balboa. A few images, sound bites, or even just a few notes of a song and audiences of the right age are transported back to the first time they saw the Best Picture-winning “Rocky,” the film that made Sylvester Stallone a star over three decades ago. That beloved sports film and the five sequels that followed have been collected on Blu-Ray for the first time in “Rocky: The Undisputed Collection”. Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.5/5.0

The original “Rocky” looks a little more dated with each passing year, but the spirit of the film is still effective. Watching it again for the first time in years, I was struck by how many films that followed it have copied the basic beats and tone of the film. Stallone’s smartest move with “Rocky” was keeping it simple; making it a story to which everyone could relate. We’ve all been down on the mat of life and nearly counted out. We all hope we have the stamina and courage to get back up again.

Rocky: The Undisputed Collection was released on Blu-Ray on November 3rd, 2009.
Rocky: The Undisputed Collection was released on Blu-Ray on November 3rd, 2009.
Photo credit: Fox/MGM Home Video

“Rocky” is one of those films that transcended cinema to become a true phenomenon. It has been referenced arguably as much as any film of its era and the stunning $156 million worldwide take of the 2006 return to the franchise, “Rocky Balboa,” is just proof of how timeless this character has become. With over $500 million in gross (and that’s just domestically), Rocky Balboa is one of the most popular characters in the history of film.

Naturally, the “Rocky” series of films would make a perfect fit for a holiday season Blu-Ray box set and that’s exactly what Fox/MGM has produced with “The Undisputed Collection,” a seven-disc set with all six films and a disc of bonus features.

The films themselves could have been given a slighter better technical polish. The video is typical for Fox/MGM - which means it’s just so-so. I was disappointed by the amount of unnecessary grain and the lack of line detail in the darker scenes of “Rocky”. The audio mix, in Dolby Digital 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, is a more noticeable and accomplished upgrade.

The films themselves include no special features with all of the bonus material being reserved for the final disc. Yes, that means no commentary tracks, which is a disappointment. And three hours of special features may first seem like a lot but is it really that much when you take into account the fact that they cover six films, thirty years, and one of the most beloved characters in history? There are mediocre, straight-to-Blu-Ray titles receiving three hours of special features every week.

They may be a little light, but the special features are an interesting lot and include the Blu-Ray exclusive interactive game entitled “Feeling Strong Now!,” “In the Ring: Three-Part Making-of Documentary,” Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes on the Makeup, Music, Directing, and Camera Work, Boxing Featurettes (“Three Rounds with Legendary Trainer Lou Duva,” “The Opponents,” and “The Ring of Truth”), Tributes to Burgess Meredith and James Crabe, “Interview with a Legend: Burt Sugar,” Video Commentary with Sylvester Stallone, Sylvester Stallone on “Dinah!” from 1976, theatrical trailers, TV spots, and more.

‘Rocky: The Undisputed Collection’ includes “Rocky,” “Rocky II,” “Rocky III,” “Rocky IV,” “Rocky V,” and “Rocky Balboa” and is released by Fox/MGM Home Video. “Rocky,” “Rocky II,” and “Rocky III” star Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, and Burgess Meredith. “Rocky IV” stars Stallone, Young, Weathers, Brigitte Nielsen, and Dolph Lundgren. “Rocky V” stars Stallone, Shire, Young, Sage Stallone, Tommy Morrison, and Meredith. “Rocky Balboa” stars Stallone, Young, and Antonio Tarver. All six films were written by Stallone. “Rocky II,” “Rocky III,” “Rocky IV,” and “Rocky Balboa” were directed by Stallone. “Rocky” and “Rocky V” were directed by John G. Avildsen. The collection was released on Blu-Ray on November 3rd, 2009. content director Brian Tallerico

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