If you were to ask any hardcore boxing/martial arts fan, or any appreciator of classic cinema for that matter, what their top ten favourite movies were, the odds are that the original Rocky would probably make that list. Even though the very first film in the now multi-million dollar franchise, (the latest of which, the spin-off Creed, starring Michael B Jordan, opened to rave reviews) is more than forty years old, it’s not hard to see why these movies have an almost timeless appeal.
It’s the archetypal underdog story; a tale of a hapless working class stooge from Philadelphia giving it his all and working within his limited means in order to score a win against a champ with money and resources behind him. It was the movie that made Sylvester Stallone a superstar overnight, and we all remember that famous montage and weepy ending.
It spawned a slew of imitators and sequels due to its box office success. But many people forget how much the movie owed the creative powers of its director, John Avilsden. His is a name that isn’t known in every household, like Spielberg, Scorsese or Coppola, and yet the original Rocky simply wouldn’t have been the barnstorming success it was without his visual flare or artistic talents.
The Oscar-winning director was responsible for several other beloved feature films, including The Karate Kid, Lean on Me and Inferno. Now, sadly, this Hollywood legend has died at the age of 81.