Did you know the last film of Stallone's to take $100m at the box-office was First Blood: Part II, back in 1985? It's hard to remember there was a time before he was a joke and a parody of himself; the struggle to get this script made, with him acting in it, can only be admired. However, from twenty-five years later, the whole central concept is so amazingly cliched and overused, it's even harder to see how the story could have been Oscar-nominated. Hardest of all is trying to work out why Stallone himself was nominated as an actor since, with the benefit of hindsight, we know he pulls the same faces in every movie since (a skill apparently being learned by Girlfight star, Michelle Rodriguez).
Can't deny there's a certain primitive power in its tale of a journeyman boxer who gets a crack at the world title, and I like the way the film ends before the result is announced - though the presence of four sequels kinda gives the game away. The supporting cast are, however, far more interesting than Stallone, who mumbles his way through as if already suffering from brain-damage (no, that was Rocky V). Even opponent Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) comes across with more character, leaving loyalties in the final fight somewhat divided. Can't be too critical though, remembering this was made for barely a million bucks. Certainly, it's preferable to the massive clunkers Stallone makes nowadays - having sat through Get Carter, that's perhaps not much of a compliment.