Good sports movies are fairly easy to come by, but great ones can be almost impossible to find. Over the years, the Rocky and Creed franchises have produced movies that fall into each of those categories. When they’re good, the movies in this franchise are among the best fighting movies ever made. Even when they’re only okay, though, they’re still pretty great sports movies.
With the recent release of Creed III, it feels like the appropriate time to take stock of the entire franchise and determine which Rocky movies rise to the top and which ones sink to the bottom. A great Rocky or Creed movie can take a wide variety of forms, but what matters most is the emotion it evokes in the viewer, and how authentic those feelings are.
But for now, please enjoy our list of the best Rocky movies, ranked.
Keeping Rocky out of the top spot on this list may be seen as sacrilege, but that’s no knock against this quintessential rags-to-riches story. The brilliance of Rocky is that the movie genuinely feels small and working class. Stallone was not yet a star — he really was a nobody — and he perfectly embodied the hurt of a man who can feel his life slipping away. The fact that Rocky doesn’t even win his fight against Apollo is almost like the icing on the cake, a reminder that just going toe to toe with the champ was a victory in its own right.
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