I was privileged to watch the work print of this edit a few months back.
And it was very, very good.
But this final version?
IT IS FANTASTIC!!!
This the Rocky V fans deserved. Thanks LS!
This edit gets to the core of what makes Rocky work as an iconic character and jettisons the over the top, caricature moments.
This FEELS like a Rocky movie!
While the original version just felt like it was suffering from an identity crisis... not quite a throw back/tribute to the original and not a true fleshed out worthy next chapter either.
The edited story is kept tight and focused, continuity issues are addressed and corrected, and the 80's rock style soundtrack infuses the new narrative with the perfect uplifting and inspirational energy!
Once again, Last Survivor has demonstrated his superior ability with sound replacement. The new opening titles, the two training montages and closing fight are all brilliant work. In fact, the new version of the street fight is so vastly superior to the original, I can not even imagine it being staged any other way.
All the new music choices work wonderfully, both in terms of sound and lyrics. I am glad LS stuck with the 80s rock sound and did not pursue the Electro Version soundtrack idea. As a bonus feature, an electro version of one the training montages is included, and I have to be honest, it left me completely cold.
In other bonus features, LS includes one of his famous commentaries. His passion for Rocky and Sylvestor Stallone is evident, and it was a joy to listen to his insights. It is a great commentary.
There is also a very cool teaser trailer for Last Survivor's next project, which he talks about briefly in his commentary. Not to spoil anything, but it looks awesome!
Needless to say, technically this edit is excellent. The picture quality is almost equal to my dvd version and sound work is exceptional.
So if you have been wondering whether to download this edit or not, wonder no more -- this is a MUST SEE fan edit!
Much credit to LastSurvivor for rescuing this film and giving us a version I'm happy to watch with the rest of the series. John G. Avildsen (director of this film and the original Rocky) actually released a workprint "director's cut" online that addresses most of the same issues that LS identified here. It keeps getting taken down, so I can't watch to confirm if it's better or not, but you can see the director reworked the end fight, the training montages, the music, etc. Stallone also famously changed both the ending and his portrayal of the brain damage while filming. All of these are addressed and improved by this fanedit.
Basically, Rocky fans fall into two camps: those that really love III and IV but don't care much about the others, and those that really appreciate the more drama-oriented films in the series. Rocky III and IV are about 60% montage, and while they're great fun, it's hard to say that they're genuinely moving. Rocky V tried to come back to the original's Oscar-winning roots, but lapsed into a studio cash-in of a mess. What this edit does great is strip away a lot of the trendy ideas afflicted on Rocky V and allow the drama at its core to shine. It's one of the most realistic and depressing films in the series, incorporating tons of real-world issues that boxers eventually face in their career. Made in 1990, it actually brilliantly satirizes Don King and his Tyson-beating stooge, Buster Douglas. Stallone's script calls out the twisted business behind modern boxing, the politics of getting big fights, the engineering of fight records, the health-destroying injuries, the broken families. Almost everything that happens in the film ended up happening to Mike Tyson a few years later. The drama in this film is the great strong point, and the scenes between Adrian and Rocky have a chance to rise above and really reach the audience now.
It's not a perfect edit (for me), though. There are a couple of continuity issues created by the removal of scenes, for one. While the "one year later" on-screen title attempts to smooth over the change in actors for Rocky Jr., it's actually a 5 year age difference from Rocky IV! This could've been fixed with a couple more time tags, like skipping ahead 2 years when Rocky decides to open his gym, and another year or so when he starts training Tommy. Sage Stallone does actually look older by the final third of the film, when he's fully rebelling and wearing an earring. Cutting out the scene when he starts doing that makes it a little less obvious what he's doing though, and means Rocky's joke about the earring at the end of the film largely misses. Rocky Jr.'s dig at Rocky about "watching out for scams" also misses because the scene where Rocky walked him to school is removed, so he never says that. We also miss the line he references several times later about him and his son promising to remain tight. Also, this edit of the final fight ends up making it largely one-sided...Rocky hits Tommy roughly 200 times and never seems in real danger. It's a bit anti-climactic. Partially re-instating these scenes would better support the parallel stories of the 'two sons', and make Rocky Jr. seem like less of a needy whiner.
All that is not nearly as important as what the edit does right, though. The new music choices fit very well, and that alone is reason enough for this to replace the original. Not only the addition of cheesy '80s rock, but also more Conti music, and a saxy Gonna Fly Now reprise if I'm not mistaken. I didn't get why the pencil artwork was used for the film, until I rewatched and remembered his son becomes an artist. It's actually perfect then, in that the theme of this film is legacy and family, and Rocky focusing on his family instead of his boxing/boxers. However, I would've preferred the son's actual art in the film, particularly the lovely picture of Rocky and Adrian. This becomes the core of this movie for me, a return to the first film. The boxing should be almost secondary. Given how Rocky is dealing with what happens with his son and Adrian in the next film, Rocky Balboa, this film actually becomes stronger for how it sets this up. These scenes with Adrian are now really touching in context, and I wish that were the cover/dvd menu, rather than focusing on Rocky as the boxer.
All in all though, this is a much improved film that splits the difference between the two camps of Rocky fans. It's got lots of heart and personal drama, but it's also short and full of action montages and '80s rock. I don't think it's going to wow fans of either Rocky IV or the original, but it has now secured its place in the series.
Rocky V is a movie I consider more mediocre and a missed opportunity than utterly terrible. I appreciate the attempt to get back to the roots of what was once the story of an underdog before getting lost in the worst of Hollywood excesses, but aside from what others have pointed out (awful central performance, horrid hip-hop, uncharismatic rival, no Rocky in the ring...) it has all the feel of a failed pilot for Rocky the TV Series, with all the son stuff and the general blandness. But still, there's something strangely endearing about it. And the Burgess Meredith scene is simply wonderful.
And I also love anything 80s. It's the decade I grew up in, and its music gets me back there. Even the kitschiest tunes of the era do so. So, this edit was a winner for me from the get-go. Gone are the worst offenders in the acting, musical, and narrative department, and with the new songs this is about the best version of the movie it's likely to ever exist unless deleted scenes in usable quality surface. It still has much of that TV feel, but it now feels more Rocky than ever. In fact, in this form it would be a really solid entry in the series if it weren't because of Tommy Gunn's complete lack of charisma (maybe Carl Weathers, Mr. T, or Dolph Lundgren weren't the greatest of actors, but they oozed personality.)
The editing itself is flawless. I doubt anyone who had not seen the original would notice this is edited. The only "off" bit happens near the end when Robert Jr. tells Adrian about the street fight, the audio levels aren't completely right there and the music "eats up" the lines slightly, but I understand it had to be that way because of the original music bleeding into the dialog track. Still, the rest is perfect. Too bad it's 2.0 and not 5.1, but good enough. As for the video quality, just as good as the commercial DVD.
A big plus is Last Survivor's feature-length audio commentary. One can feel his passion for the Rocky saga and Stallone movies in general. And I appreciate this sort of bonus feature in an edit, I wish more releases included them.
If you like Rocky and/or the 80s, in my opinion you can't go wrong with this one. Even if you hate Rocky V with a passion, as a lot of people do, I'd say this is worth one watch at least. Someone send Stallone a copy! Vocal as he is about his hatred for the movie, I think he'd like the edit.
I am not a editing expert on anything like that (I would not dare to attempt some of the great stuff you guys churn out!), but I watched this Rocky V edit this afternoon with the missus, and all I can say is WOW!
The change of soundtrack really makes a massive difference, and the choices of the music fit perfectly to the scenes IMO.
The editing is seamless from what I can tell, Last Survivor has certainly made the weakest of the Rocky films so much better to watch......so a massive thumbs up from me!
To me Rocky 5 always was a flawed movie, but a flawed movie with a heart.
This edit keeps the heart and polish the flaws with success.
It feels a bit short though but nothing feels like missing (maybe a final a bit longuer, because this new version was so great you wanted more, so it's a compliment in a way)
And the winner is.... Last survivor!