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The Rocky Anthology

The Rocky Anthology on DVD

Available previously as bare-bones single discs, all five Rocky films are now available in one fancy boxed set, with each film receiving a brand-new high definition transfer and Dolby Digital soundtracks. The first Rocky also gets a much coveted dts 5.1 track as well.

Rocky – The original film (click here for our review of the original DVD release) is the ultimate underdog story. Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone, in the role that really put him on the map) is just a neighborhood boxer in a rough time. But when the heavyweight champ, Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), is looking for a new challenge, Rocky gets a shot at the big time. He trains and trains and trains some more to prepare for the biggest bout of his life, all the while trying to woo Adrian (Talia Shire). While we wouldn’t say that it’s worthy of 10 Oscar noms, this is a classic movie that could give hope to anyone struggling to find themselves.

Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, the picture quality is worthy of the DVD medium in its current state of the art. The overall picture quality is sparkling, and the dust and grain that marred former copies of the film are almost nonexistent. Audio is a bit muddy, but infinitely better than it has been. There’s not a lot of surround use, but separation of the front channels is handled well. The score sounds a little shrill in a few places, but you can always hear the dialogue well enough to know what’s going on.

Rocky II – In the second film, Rocky gets a rematch against Apollo Creed, who is disillusioned at the fact that he nearly lost his title to a nobody. Rocky’s life is improving since his big time bout, and he considers retirement until he realizes that he’s a boxer through and through. More training ensues as the Italian Stallion prepares for an even bigger fight than the biggest of his life.

Picture quality has not improved over the first film, but is at least on a par with it . It lacks a bit of the detail that was so good on Rocky I, however it still looks pretty solid. Audio sounds the same as in the original release.

Rocky III – Rocky is now the heavyweight champ and defending his title to any who oppose him. When Clubber Lang (Mr. T) makes a challenge no champion could refuse, he’s thrust into the ring for the biggest fight of his life…again. Lang is no slouch, though. He’ll demolish anything that gets in his way – including Rocky, if need be. But things get rough for the champ when Mickey, his trainer, dies, and Apollo Creed is forced to take over the job.

Both picture and sound have decreased in quality again compared with Rocky I, but not by much. We still get pretty good detail and very little grain, and well-done separation of audio elements. It’s unfortunate that they couldn’t have managed the same quality for all five films as they got with number one, but since the first film is the only one that really wowed people at least we have it to enjoy in all its glory.

Rocky III through V are also available in full screen versions on the opposite side of their respective discs.

Rocky IV – The biggest fight of his life comes in the form of Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), a Soviet prizefighter who’s been trained by the best. He’s an emotionally hollow wrecking machine whose sole purpose is to take out anyone or anything that dares to step in the ring with him. Then Apollo Creed steps in the ring with him…and gets taken out. Rocky feels obliged to retaliate so he can defend the honor of his fallen comrade as well as his country.

Once again, both picture and sound are okay, good enough to let you enjoy the film. This is, however, a more intense film that should have had better video and audio quality.

Rocky V – Upon returning from his fight with Ivan Drago, Rocky discovers his fortune has been squandered by a less-than-adequate financial advisor. Moving back to his old neighborhood, Rocky starts training Tommy Gunn (Tommy Morrison), an up-and-coming young boxer who doesn’t waste any time rising to the top. But when he turns against his mentor and publicly taunts him, Rocky realizes he has to fight once more…possibly the biggest fight of his life. Again.

Picture and sound have improved a little this time around, probably due to the fact that this is the newest of the films. While we still don’t get the quality we do on the first film, we’re at least back up to the quality of the second.

Unfortunately, this set doesn’t feature any extras. Press releases claimed it would include a biography of Stallone himself, but we were unable to find it.

When all is said and done, the quality of this boxed set is good enough, though as harped on incessantly above it could have been much better. Still, we finally get what at least until the next trip to the video well is the definitive set of all five “classic” Rocky movies. For any Rocky fans out there, this is the way to go.


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