All The Rocky Movies RANKED

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One of the longest-running franchises in cinema, the Rocky series has had its fair share of ups and downs over the years.

From the first film’s Best Picture win to a gradual drop in acclaim, before a revival in the 21st Century, there’s a lot to say about this legendary series. But which is the best film?

Let’s find out: here are all the Rocky movies RANKED.


8. Rocky Balboa (2006)

An undeniably touching ode to a legendary life story, Rocky Balboa looks back on thirty years of triumph for its title character, but fails to replicate the spirited excitement of the films that came before it.

Though starting strongly with a wonderfully moving and intimate look back to the past, the film unfortunately switches gears halfway through in favour of a slightly enjoyable but completely implausible comeback story for the Italian Stallion, losing sight of the sweet, humble drama that really makes this series so great.

Read a full review here.


7. Rocky IV (1985)

Without a doubt the most ludicrous but undeniably entertaining film in the series, Rocky IV is a lovably jingoistic sports movie that’s a far cry from the franchise’s origins.

While it’s generally lacking in genuine emotional drama, the film is a really fun-loving watch, complete with great boxing sequences, montage after montage and even a robot maid. It’s fair to say that, at times, Rocky IV goes too far, but for pure, braindead blockbuster fun, it might just be the best in the whole series.

Read a full review here.


6. Rocky V (1990)

It may be the worst-reviewed of the Rocky movies by a long way, but Rocky V is a far better film than many suggest. With a move away from the far-fetched blockbuster action of its immediate predecessor, it’s a film that really tries to do something different.

Rather than following the same narrative structure as every other movie in the series, Rocky V lends more time and attention to heartfelt, touching emotional drama. It doesn’t always work perfectly, with a terrible opening act meaning the film takes a while to find its feet, but at its best, it’s a passionate and intimate story of fatherhood, reliving the past and the prospect of the future.

Read a full review here.


5. Rocky III (1982)

Without a doubt hugely underrated, Rocky III is almost every bit as good as the two films that came before it, even if it does mark the franchise’s shift away from understated, intimate drama.

Featuring the debut of Mr. T as the fearsome Clubber Lang, this is still a hugely entertaining, blood-pumping sports movie, while it begins to explore the blossoming friendship of Rocky and his former rival Apollo Creed. It’s not as touching as the first two films, but it’s both an enjoyable and still sweet watch, and definitely not as disappointing as many suggest.

Read a full review here.


4. Rocky II (1979)

One of my favourite sequels ever made, Rocky II is that rare follow-up that really expands upon the story that its predecessor began in both gripping and fully faithful fashion.

Complete with fantastic directing from Sylvester Stallone, the film blends exhilarating sports excitement with really heartfelt drama, as we see Rocky navigate life after he lands on the world stage, with Stallone’s passion for the character and his journey through life at its highest point. It’s a wonderful watch, and nearly just as good as the original.

Read a full review here.


3. Rocky (1976)

Rocky is known as the greatest underdog story ever told, and there’s a good reason for that. In tandem with a deeply intimate and insightful view of poverty in the city of Philadelphia, there are few films as inspiring and crowd-pleasing as this one.

It’s not just about the winning and losing, but rather about the journey to the top, as we follow the humble but determined Rocky Balboa train for the fight of his life, against World Champion Apollo Creed. Complete with epic training montages, a rousing soundtrack and an exhilarating finale, Rocky is an undeniable cinematic classic.

Read a full review here.


2. Creed II (2018)

Few reboots and spin-offs can ever claim to even match the original, but the Creed movies go one better. Creed II, the second instalment in the story of the son of Apollo Creed’s rise to the top of boxing, is a fantastic sequel and spin-off in every sense.

Building upon the touching and deeply insightful drama of its immediate predecessor, Creed II delves into the history of the Rocky franchise, digging up old wounds from the events of Rocky IV, as Adonis Creed fights the son of Ivan Drago, the man who killed his father. It’s intense but once again a measured drama, which is without doubt this series’ greatest strength.

Read a full review here.


1. Creed (2015)

Bursting out of the blocks in thrilling style, Creed is by far the best film in the Rocky universe, as it goes back to the series’ roots with a deeply affecting personal story, all the while bringing to life an exhilarating sporting tale in dazzling fashion.

With Michael B. Jordan giving the performance of his life as Adonis Creed, and director Ryan Coogler injecting spectacular energy into the series for the first time in years, Creed is both the blood-pumping, exciting sports epic and the understated, emotionally affecting drama that all the movies in this franchise should be.

It was a thrilling reinvention for the series, opening up a fascinating window into the rise of a champion, and the autumn years of the legend Rocky Balboa.

Read a full review here.

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About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com