Sylvester Stallone is undoubtedly one of Hollywood’s most fascinating people. More than just an action hero, he is an award winning actor and director and with his breakthrough film Rocky he managed to portray his own struggles as a newcomer trying to make it as an actor into the film industry about something different altogether yet somehow the correlation is obvious. For me growing up watching films like Rambo, the aforementioned Rocky and its bigger and baddie sequels and classic popcorn warranting stuff like Tango and Cash and Over The Top (which was an over the top film about arm wrestling) I couldn't help but love the guy however as I grew up and learnt more about his other works and the man behind the films I was in awe of him. Here is a little blog I wrote about Sly focussing on some of his big 80s moments.
I remember being aware of Sylvester Stallone's characters as a young boy in the 80s. I remember going to a fancy dress school party as Rambo (plastic gun, camo trousers and a headband) and apart from the fact I was portraying a war haunted killer I won the competition. Political correctness wasn't like it is today however, bear in mind there was a Rambo cartoon, Rambo lunch boxes and even Rambo action toys on sale.
His other well known character at the time was Rocky Balboa and again I remember seeing the films on TV back then. I remember seeing posters of Rocky in the video shop ( for those under 18 a video shop is what basically Netflix is today; spending an hour to decide you want to watch the same film you watched a week before.....but you had to leave your house for the privilege). People often put Sly in the same category as Arnold Schwarzenegger mainly because of their dominance of the action movie market of the decade however whilst Arnie worked hard to get the successes he had he never wrote his own films like Stallone did nor did he win An Oscar for best film like like Mr Stallone did for Rocky in 1976.
For me his best film of that era was Rocky 4. Sure it's stuffed full of training montages, inspiring rock music and shoehorned robot scene however it's also a pretty awesome (if not totally believable) action film. As a child watching that (don’t tell the BBBF) and seeing *spoiler alert* Ivan Drago (played by another one of my heroes Dolf Lundgren) destroy the likeable Apollo Creed filled me with genuine fear for what Rocky had to do in Russia. The film in fairness has is high in action, glamour and style and low on content much like a fashion magazine but there is something about that struggle against the odds that resonates within me and even today I can't hear the soundtrack without wanting to run up a slow covered mountain.
Whilst he made some more movies in the 80s which range from the good ( Cobra, Tango and Cash) to the not so good (Escape to Victory and Nighthawks) to the downright crap (Rhinestone leaps to mind) he rarely received the acknowledgment of his talents beyond the action hero genre and it wasn't until his formidable performance in 1997s bleak, star studded drama Copland that people were reminded of how great he really is (it's worth watching for his scene stealing performance with Robert Di Nero alone).
In recent times he has had global success with the hark to the 80s franchise The Expendables as well as being nominated for best supporting Oscar for his reprisal of Rocky Balboa in Creed. So there you have it, an incredible talent that shows no signs of stopping. I look forward to see what he does next but knowing his love of sequels let's not rule out Rocky 7.