Movie Reviews from a few years ago..

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In his latest film, Sylvester Stallone revives the beloved boxing underdog in the final instalment of the Rocky series, Rocky Balboa. Stallone, who wrote, directed, and starred in the film, breathes new life into the work of art. 30 years since his last fight, the former two-time champion decides to put on the gloves for 10 more rounds of heart-pounding action.

The story begins with an aged, retired boxing legend, Rocky Balboa (Stallone), who is left in recalling his earlier years. With the passing of his wife, misunderstanding from his son, and some “unfinished business” in his heart, Rocky wants to take it all out in one final match inside the ring. Balboa gets his chance when the reigning heavyweight champion, Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver), challenges him after a computer-simulated fight between the two, Dixon and Balboa in his prime, was broadcasted on television. The simulated fight depicted Balboa as the winner. Balboa, motivated by Dixon’s challenge and the nostalgic hunger to be back in the ring, eventually reapplies for a boxing license and begins training. Soon afterwards, Balboa and Dixon are set against each other in an exhibition match.

Although the storyline is simple and follows the same trend of the previous films, Stallone brings a new sense of passion and honesty to the latest film. Within the first 10 minutes, the audience is able to pick up on the depressed nature of the former champion. During the last 12 minutes, watching the final fight in Rocky’s life, it is inevitable to cheer along.

One of the themes in the movie is that people need to find their place in life and time. Rocky realized that a boxer would always be a boxer. It has always been a means of expression for him. His age limited himself to only throwing strong punches, but he was still boxing nonetheless.

Stallone has made a successful attempt on describing the hardships of life in general. Of all the quotes during the movie, the one that stands out the most is the following: “It ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep movin’ forward.” It revealed that despite his previous accomplishment in boxing, he’s still fighting against life. However, that fighting is not in vain as true happiness only comes after conquering challenges.

The music fits well into the atmosphere and nature of the movie, allowing the sadness and motivation sequences to be magnified. The production sequences are generally good, except in parts of the last fight where too many scenes are jumbled together causing the images to be incoherent.

This last chapter of Rocky has a nicely written script. Stallone has put in significant effort to end the Rocky series smoothly. There are also less fighting scenes, but that’s to be expected because of Rocky’s age. These 102 minutes will reveal that “the last thing to age in somebody is their heart.”

John Rambo

Sylvester Stallone continues his revival of classic movies with the fourth instalment of Rambo. Stallone once again directed, wrote, and starred in this renowned movie.

The movie begins with a disturbing image of the reality in Burma. The world’s longest civil war caused the Burmese army to kill civilians of the Karen tribes people for pleasure. The army also catches children as young as 12 to join their army. Meanwhile, John Rambo (Stallone) is leading a quiet life in Thailand by catching and selling snakes and driving a boat to transport locals. His life takes a turn when a group of Christian missionaries, armed with only books and medicine and led by Michael Burnett (Paul Schulze) and Sarah Miller (Julie Benz), asks him to transport them to the Karen Village in Burma. Shortly after the village was attacked, the pastor of the Christian church asks Rambo to take some mercenaries upriver to assist in the rescue mission.

The movie sequence is logical for the majority of the film. One exception is the part when Rambo kills the Burmese pirates along the way to the Karen Village. After a day of transportation, he goes back to the site of killing and the dead pirates are still there. Normally, the pirates’ base would have sent another squadron to patrol the waters, had the four pirates not returned in time.

Continuing the trend of increasing Rambo violence, there are around 300 kills in the movie, including many close-up appalling scenes. Most of the deaths are realistically choreographed. The only scene that wasn’t shot as well was where the mercenary sniper shot off the machinegun boatman’s head. It was quite obvious that the body was a plastic figure. Some scenes are also unnecessarily disturbing, including the one where Rambo rips off a Burmese army officer’s head with his bare hands. The movie’s category III rating is not enough to warn viewers of the carnage involved.

The use of weaponry in the movie is quite realistic. Two of the five mercenaries are armed with M4A1 assault rifles with the M203 grenade launcher attachment, while most of the Burmese army sport AK-47, the famous weapon for the villains. The truck-mounted machinegun used by Rambo in the end of the movie is also a military standard .50 caliber M855. Given the choice of explosives, Rambo uses the Claymore instead of C4 because the Claymore has been around since the Vietnam War era. The movie is up-to-date with the latest artillery, adding an essential bit of realism.

From the beginning of the movie, the audience can witness Rambo’s simple and depressed lifestyle. Due to atypical circumstances, Rambo chose to live a solitary life in Thailand and not return home. He lived a life that he didn’t like; yet he didn’t try to change it because he believed his life was hopeless. His vision was also supported by the mercenaries’ captain who apparently disliked the fact that he was in Burma, aiding in the war that was irrelevant to him. Although there is a change in thought towards the end of the movie, the audience is still left with a depressed mood when the credits role.

This movie is significantly lacking in dialogue. Although this is a war movie and given Rambo’s depressed nature, there should still be more script involved. The lack of communication leaves the audience feeling empty and unsatisfied.

Overall, this movie is worth 91 minutes of your time investment. Although the feeling from watching it is not as pleasant as Rocky Balboa, the movie shows the true anguish of many unfortunate nations. It also shows how many people are fighting for freedom, an essential ingredient for happiness.

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