— by JOSUE SANCHEZ —
Sylvester Stallone is a legend, an icon of action movies. What he has done for action on film is greatly appreciated by his followers. It is very easy to spot his influence in new movies. He has done things on film no one has done before him, but many have done after him. He is recognized worldwide for his roles as Rocky and Rambo. Of course, there are other great movies of his that deserve to be mentioned.
Stallone has been working in show business for more than 38 years, both in front of the camera and behind it. He has excelled as a director, producer and screenwriter. Throughout the years he has had hits and misses, and, unfortunately, some of his work has been unappreciated and, at times, mocked. Yet, none of this has dissuaded him to give up or get discouraged. Perhaps, depression or sadness did strike due to his missteps, but it stayed locked away in private, for his image throughout time has always been that of a proud and celebratory person.
Although he has been quiet for periods of time, he has had various, big, triumphant comebacks. In short, he’s been around, and it would be appropriate and fun to mention some of his best. The following selections are my opinion; many will disagree with my list or the order of my list, but I will explain why I feel this way about it. Of course I invite you, the reader, to express your feelings about my choices and to add your own list in the comment section as well.
My countdown is as follows:
5. “Rocky Balboa”: After the widely rejected “Rocky IV” disappointed the fans, it was always pointed out by many that this was not the way to close the story of Rocky. It took many years, but Stallone answered the fans’ plea and made “Rocky Balboa.” What a great decision. This was a huge comeback for him. Here was the story of an aged titan, still enthused by his fighter’s spirit. Although forced to retire in the previous movie, he still yearned for the rush and excitement of the sport that once ran through his blood. In this movie, Rocky, the formerly invincible boxer, is once again the underdog, mostly due to his age and his time away from the ring. Perhaps the lapsed time between movies and his apparent age are what make this movie special. We all knew that the previous Rocky had fought wars in the ring and would always be triumphant. This was the first time since “Rocky” that we actually felt Stallone’s Rocky could lose a fight, making the underdog angle of the story the defining plot one more time, one last time.
4. “Demolition Man”: On the eve of the success of “Cliffhanger,” something exciting happened — “Demolition Man.” Stallone seemed to be on top of the world during that time period. His charisma was well transmitted into this movie with his character, John Spartan. He was funny and confident. It was too bad a sequel was never pursued. “Demolition Man” was a great mix of both comedy and action/violence. This movie was also a big push for Sandra Bullock’s career; it might have even opened the door for her to do “Speed” the very next year. The movie included a young Benjamin Bratt and Rob Schneider. It also starred Denis Leary, and, of course, its villain was Wesley Snipes as Simon Phoenix.
3. “Cliffhanger”: This movie was a triumph of its time, and still, to this date, it holds its own. There are various things that make this movie stand out with greatness in my head. The first thing that comes to mind is the movie’s villain. John Lithgow’s “Eric Qualen” was evil, ruthless and believable. This is the same man that can be as noble as a priest in “Footloose,” and funny in his TV show, “3rd Rock From the Sun.” He was an amazing villain to face off against Stallone’s “Gabe Walker,” which brings up the second thing that I love about this movie. Stallone was in top shape. He nearly froze himself filming the movie and trying to make it realistic. He definitely put his heart into it. I loved the way they used various phobias of things like heights, cold and bats as a part of the movie. I loved the scenery and the stunts. It was definitely an all-around great action movie. I have seen others try to copy it, and they never matched its essence.
2. “Rocky”: Many will argue that this deserves to be No. 1. It probably does, but let me explain. “Rocky” is one of the greatest boxing movies ever. It is a motivational piece; it inspires those who watch it to achieve the impossible. (It definitely helped me lose 30 pounds of fat!) It is the story of an underdog, but it is also about the birth of a gladiator … a nobody … who the world discovers has the heart to carry him through a challenge that seemed impossible. He was so resilient that he won the world over with that heart. The movie was nominated for five Academy Awards and won Best Picture. Stallone wrote that movie over a weekend. What a triumph!
1. “First Blood”: If you have seen the movie “Son of Rambow,” then you will understand the kind of influence this movie can have on a young boy. I wanted to be John Rambo, or get lost in the forest after watching this movie. I wanted to be chased, and make booby traps. Yet, as an adult, I see all the powerful issues that the movie touched upon when I re-watch it: war and its traumas, intolerance, and pride. Sometimes we make mistakes, and there is a price to pay. Stallone really stepped up his acting in this movie and brought to us another powerful performance. This is not a mindless action movie, yet it changed all action movies forever. The forest scenes are so memorable. The tone that is set up is wonderful, for the hunters learn that they are being hunted. Many movies copied the camouflaging survival techniques of war from the Rambo movies, but he did it first. I believe that “Rocky” is perhaps Stallone’s greatest movie; nevertheless, “First Blood” changed, until this day, action movies forever.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section.
Follow Josue Sanchez on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Josue_can.