The Good

It's Rocky hought they might have jazzed things up for this Blu-ray D release.Rocky: The Undisputed Collection gives viewers all 6 movies in this series on 7 Blu-ray discs. While at times it seems like things get a little hard to believe for this pug from Philadelphia, Rocky's can do attitude is what makes this series work. No matter who the opponent, no matter what the odds, no matter how much the script defies logic, our hero meets every challenge at the gate and always finds a way to come out on top.

Rocky sees the origin of this character played and written by Sylvester Stallone. This is easily the best film in the series as it shows us a fighter who has almost no fight left, realizing that he needs to put everything on the line in order to achieve what he wants. This is the film that introduces the characters of Adrian (Talia Shire), Paulie (Burt Young), Mickey (Burgess Meredith), Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) and Creed's Trainer Duke (Tony Burton). Rocky gets a once in a lifetime chance to battle Apollo Creed. He trains like heck, comes up short, but his inspiring effort wins everybody over.

Rocky II is the follow-up film and it just lacks everything that the original had. In fact, due to the success of the first film (it made $100 million in the 1970s!!), everything in hyper-realized and Rocky trains hard and wins at the end. I will say that the double knockdown moment at the end of the film is priceless.

Rocky III This is a terrific film that sees what happens after Rocky wins the title. He defends the crown 10 times, goes soft and then gets blasted out in less than 2 rounds against Clubber Lang (Mr. T). Mickey dies, the retired Apollo and Duke train him, and Rocky puts it all together to put the hurt on the man who bested him. Mr. T almost becomes as big an icon as Rocky and this film features priceless lines from Rocky ("Go for it!") and Mr. T ("Shut up old man, you and that chump know where I come from!").

Rocky VI With America experiencing the Cold War of the 1980s, Rocky was needed to beat the Russians and extend an olive branch to our enemies abroad. After Apollo Creed is killed by Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) in an exhibition fight, Rocky trains like he's never trained before in his life. He ventures to Russia and in a completely insane 15 round fight, KO's Drago. Incidentally, the actual person who reffed the fight in the film and was a boxing referee in real life, once told me that he would be stripped of his license had he actually let the fight go the full 15.

Rocky V Many find great fault with this movie. The biggest flaw is that somehow Rocky's son ages like 10 years when his father goes to Russia! After enduring the punches he did in his fight with Drago, Rocky has brain damage and has to retire. He loses all of his money so he, Adrian and Paulie move back into Paulie's old house. Rocky and Paulie start training fighters and they bring up white hope Tommy Gunn (real life fighter Tommy Morrison). Gunn gets corrupted by a Don King-like promoter, and when he bails out on Rocky he loses respect in the boxing world. So, he comes to Rocky's local watering hole and feels that if he fights him there then he will be back on top. Yes, it's bad... but Rocky wins and ultimately this movie has a certain charm.

Rocky Balboa with Adrian shuffling the mortal coil, his son not wanting to be overshadowed by his dad, Rocky is alone. Paulie is having some personal problems as well. Not content to just be a restaurant owner, Rocky manages to land a fight against the current heavyweight champion Mason Dixon (real life fighter Antonio Tarver). Rocky works out his problems, steps back into the ring and gives another great effort. Personally, I wish the alternate ending would have been the ending of the movie proper.

Features

Blu-ray Exclusive Interactive Game: Feeling Strong Now!

This game isn't that great. I am sorry, I know that the creators of this 7 disc set probably feel like they worked very hard on this release, but it just isn't anything to write home about. I am huge boxing fan and I still play a game from 1984! So, it isn't like I am a boxing snob or I have these high standards. What I will say is that this game mixes a trivia track with an actual boxing game. The trivia stuff is as pedantic as it gets and the game doesn't really seem to have a point. I stayed in front of my Blu-ray player clicking all around and then I just said "Phooey!" and gave up.

Featurettes, Tributes and Interviews

The following is a list of what this section contains:

- In the Ring Documentary

- Behind the Scenes Featurettes

- Boxing Featurettes

- Tributes to Burgess Meredith and James Crabe

- Interview with Burt Sugar

- Sylvester Stallone on Dinah!

Okay, if that game wasn't bad enough this section features many things that we have already seen before. Sure, its cool to check out the Boxing Featurettes, especially if you like what a character Lou Duva is, and who doesn't want to hear Burt Sugar talk about the Rocky Franchise, but most of this is just a retread from another release. I will say that Sylvester Stallone on Dinah! is was pretty cool because we get to see the actor right as his first taste of success is in full bloom. Sure, the story he tells about having no money before the first film got made is something we have heard before, but it was cool just getting to look at vintage footage of this icon.

Video Commentary with Sylvester Stallone

Alright, here is where I thought that Stallone was going to redeem the extra features section and it just didn't happen. This is an older video commentary and while it is entertaining, enlightening, and all that good stuff... what does it really tell us? Why couldn't Sly have done one with a lot more members of the cast like they did for the first movie? Or, why not have him do one where he doesn't talk so much about the movie but the Rocky legacy? We could find out about story ideas, characters, and fights that never happened. I think that this would be a much more entertaining way to go and, should they release this set again, I would like to suggest that they do that.

Video

All of the films in this collection are Widescreen - 1.85:1. Fox Home Entertainment has done a fine job of transferring all of these movies to Blu-ray. Everything was well put together and I saw no moments where things got overly baked, or where it looked like something abnormal happened to one of the film's images. When you realize that there are 6 discs in this set, that is certainly saying something complimentary. I was really excited to see how the first 4 films looked mainly because they were the oldest. I was quite impressed with how the first Rocky film was brightened up and I got to see things, especially on the street, that I had never seen before. There was a richness to the images of all the other films and I was pretty stoked to see the care that the transfer process was given.

Audio

All of the films in this collection have the English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio except for the sixth film which has English PCM 5.1 (Uncompressed Audio). The sound in this 7 disc set is really good. As I have stated in the past, I do not have the speakers set up around my HDTV so as to take full advantage of the surround sound capabilities. That said, I was able to hear a lot of the crispness these movies offer. These films just feel right. They capture a lot of the little intricacies of boxing that most films get wrong. Also, when you want to hear great audio for punches being thrown in the ring, it doesn't get much better than what MGM and Fox have done for this Blu-ray release. If you are new to the next generation format, I would feel very comfortable showing someone this release (even with my current audio set up) as a test drive.

Package

Rocky, clad in his garb from the old neighborhood, stands in the center of this slipcase cover holding a pair of boxing gloves. The back cover features the popular shot of Rocky on the steps of that museum in Philadelphia. There is small description of what this set is about, a Special Features listing and technical specs. The 7 discs are all stored in one bigger, Blu-ray case, but even at this bulkier size, this release will take up less shelf space than almost any other standard, 7 disc release.

Final Word

I am going to begin this final word with a little known fact...

In the staredown sequence between Rocky and Clubber Lang, the fighters had to stand on crates because they were dwarfed by referee Martin Denkin.

Okay, to say that I loved Rocky: The Undisputed Collection would be 100% true but a little bit false at the same time. I say that because as much as I love having this set in the next generation format, I was upset that they didn't do more with the extras for all the movies. Sure, we get all of the extras on a bonus Blu-ray disc, and there is 3 hours of content but much of it is regurgitated from other releases. I just feel that if they are going to go to all the trouble to step things up like this, I, as a user, should benefit from newer and better extras. Stallone and others are involved with this release but not enough so that one really gets that they are behind Rocky: The Undisputed Collection. So, I love that I have this on Blu-ray, I am just saddened that it didn't contain a bit more of a personal touch from the people who were involved with the 6 movies in the franchise.

Lastly, here is the order of the Rocky movies from best to worse...

1) Rocky

2) Rocky VI

3) Rocky III

4) Rocky Balboa

5) Rocky V

6) Rocky II

Rocky: The Undisputed Collection packs a nice sized wallop and would be a welcome edition in any Blu-ray collection, and it would be a great stocking stuffer as well!