This 2006 finale to the Rocky films, starring Sylvester Stallone as former prizefighter Rocky Balboa, surprisingly succeeds, trading heavily on affection for the Rocky character.
Retired from the ring and running a small restaurant in his old neighbourhood, Rocky has lost his wife Adrian to cancer and grown distant from his once-adoring son (Milo Ventimiglia). When a sports station screens a virtual match between the vintage Italian Stallion and current champ Mason Dixon, the reminder of past glories has the now pensionable Rocky back on the raw eggs and applying for his boxing licence, again. Spotting a golden publicity opportunity, Dixon pushes for a real-life bout, and Rocky recruits his old team to prepare his battle-scarred body for the fight of his life.
Despite the implausibility of the premise, the film is a return to form for Stallone, with a lot more in common with his 1976 Oscar-winning debut than many of the sagging sequels. Scenes between the ageing champ and his estranged son, played by Heroes star Milo Ventimiglia (Peter Petrelli) pack an emotional punch every bit as forceful as the haymakers landed in the ring.