8. Rocky V (1990)
Not only is Rocky damn-near brain dead after his narrow victory in this movie’s predecessor, he’s also broke as a joke, thanks to a shady-ass accountant. What’s left to do but [rewinds VHS] defend your honor by squaring up with your former protégé in the streets before patching things up with the estranged son you’ve been neglecting? All those haymakers to the head really started to take their toll on the script.
7. Rocky Balboa (2006)
The American propaganda has always been as heavy-handed as one of Rocky’s left hooks, but there’s a line — and this film crossed it with a primary antagonist named Mason Dixon (sigh). The younger boxer (played by real-life bruiser Antonio Tarver) goads the now-geriatric legend into the most lopsided generational feud since “Granddad’s Fight,” but goddamn if the Italian Stallion didn’t give it his all.
6. Creed II (2018)
All these daddy issues and not one therapist in sight. Apollo’s illegitimate son, Adonis (Michael B. Jordan), gets some empty vengeance after defeating the son of Soviet slugger Ivan Drago, the emotionally unavailable comrade who killed Apollo. Putin and Russia’s election hacking bob and weave in the background but emerge without taking any sly jabs or mentions.
5. Rocky II (1979)
Riding high off the Oscar-winning original, Sly Stallone cooked up a rematch for the ages between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed. Not to spoil anything for you, but… the White guy wins. The only good thing about that is how he wins: a battered, brutal who’s-gonna-get-up-from-the-canvas-first slugfest that established a blueprint for approximately 17 gazillion pro wrestling matches over the next four decades.
4. Rocky (1976)
Less a boxing movie than an inspirational drama about a boxer, the OG made a star out of a dude who was best known for softcore porn work — and set us up for a yearslong battle with Ahnold over who could make more over-the-top action flicks. Still, the storyline is dubious; you mean to tell us that an amateur boxer goes the distance with the heavyweight champion? That’s like Nate Robinson going 15 rounds with Floyd Mayweather after a few weeks of sprinting up staircases, eating raw eggs, and beating up on cow carcasses.
3. Rocky III (1982)
We’ve got three words for you: Clubber. Fucking. Lang.
2. Rocky IV (1985)
Absolute peak Cold War sports movie right here, folks. Between the robotic badass Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren), his icy attache (Brigitte Nielsen), the best training montage EVER, and all of the sweet, glorious memes, the only thing holding this one back from the top spot is the fact that Apollo Creed is killed. How you gonna do Action Jackson like that, Sly?
1. Creed (2016)
No lies told. In one movie, director Ryan Coogler came in and showed all these Hollywood vets how to shoot tight, intricate boxing sequences. All that, MBJ and Tessa and Phylicia Rashad? This is an underdog coming-of-age tale that we can get behind. Big whoop, wanna fight about it?