It's Sly's droopy-eyed, hangdog/underdog that carries Rocky's tale of transformation. He's no oil painting, no blue-eyed hero. He's not supposed to make it -- and that makes us instantly connect with him.
There are occasional flashes that the film may be patronizing the lower end of the blue-collar mentality, as much if not more than the characters who keep putting Rocky down on the screen. However, Avildsen is noted for creating such ambiguities.
Rocky retains its power to enthrall ... a quieter movie than some may remember.... It's worth seeing again, for what it was, before it was betrayed by it's less intelligent, testosterone-soaked progeny.
An extremely old-fashioned, if also intermittently enjoyable, sports drama that mixes elements of Marty as well as numerous prize-fighting pictures like The Cahamp, Golden Boy, and Somebody Up There Like Me.