When the underdog always wins he's not much of an underdog anymore, and the narrative cartwheels Sylvester Stallone has turned over the years to put Rocky in that position have peeled away the novelty.

When the underdog always wins he’s not much of an underdog anymore, and the narrative cartwheels Sylvester Stallone has turned over the years to put Rocky in that position have peeled away the novelty.

So it is with Rocky V. Stallone again scripted and continues to evince a thudding lack of storytelling subtlety, sinking to a new low with the ending, which seems inspired by championship wrestling.

Stallone positively goes wild with cliches here: Rocky left broke by mismanagement of his fortune, a Don King-like promoter (Richard Gant) pressuring Rocky to fight again, strained relations between Rocky and his son (real-life son Sage) because of Rocky’s tutelage of a young boxer (Tommy Morrison) who ultimately turns on him.

The central problem is that Rocky suffers brain damage from his various beatings in the ring, making it risky for him ever to fight again.

Burt Young has his moments as the slobbish Paulie. Talia Shire has become shrill and annoying as Adrian. Gant is perfectly hissable as Duke. Boxer-turned-actor Morrison is serviceable as the ham-fisted heavy. Bill Conti’s score remains the series’ greatest asset.

Rocky V

Production

United Artists. Director John G. Avildsen; Producer Irwin Winkler, Robert Chartoff; Screenplay Sylvester Stallone; Camera Steven Poster; Editor John G. Avildsen, Michael N. Knue; Music Bill Conti; Art Director William J. Cassidy

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1990. Running time: 104 MIN.

With

Sylvester Stallone Talia Shire Burt Young Sage Stallone Burgess Meredith Tommy Morrison
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