Okay let’s face it, Stallone is really a three trick pony. He can do Rambo, Rocky and The Expendables. Put him in any other roll and he just doesn’t work as well. Rocky Balboa was essential Rocky 6 and this movie was Rocky 7.

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They just replaced the main antagonist with Robert De Niro, then replaced the black kid from the last movie with Kevin Hart and moved the setting to Pittsburgh instead of having it in Philadelphia. We even have a female love interest for Stallone who is insisting that he doesn’t go through with the fight but then in the last 20 minutes changes her mind and tells him to go fight and win, just like Adrian did in every single Rocky movie she was ever in.

Stallone also has an older character who coaches him who is grouchy and has a very strange method of training for the upcoming fight, who reminds me a lot of Mickey. There are also other little nuggets sprinkled throughout the movie that are a throwback to the Rocky series, such as Stallone drinking raw eggs out of a glass, going to a meat locker and starting to punch huge slabs of meat hanging on hooks, then mentioning the phrase, “cut me,” when he’s in the ring and his eye is injured. The main character Stallone is playing also has a bad eye just like Rocky did from the second movie on. There is also a training montage for both of the fighters that signals the beginning of the third act, just like in every Rocky movie ever made.

One last similarity I’d like to mention. Can Stallone do a single boxing movie without announcing his retirement from the world of boxing? Seriously, he’s done that in every single Rocky movie except for the first one!

Alright enough of that. The plot is very predictable and we’ve seen these plot elements many times before. The family member who ignores a kid they are put in charge of and the parent of the kids hates them for it and then they make up in the third act. The main character who re-connects with an old love interest. The citizens of a town who lost employment and are looking to the main character for inspiration, etc.

The jokes did get a few laughs out of me and a few of them were pretty good, but it’s nothing really to write home about. Moving right along, the actual boxing match is disappointing. We have a few good punches, but most of the punches are just jabs that don’t really amount to a whole lot.

And of course, Stallone’s character wins the boxing match.

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All in all, the movie wasn’t really that great and it shows that Stallone is running out of ideas. If he still wants to make these kinds of movies, why doesn’t he just make them a part of the Rocky franchise instead of trying to create a whole new character who is only a slightly different individual than Rocky was?

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