A point to clear up first – Rocky does not die at the end of the Director’s Cut. It was intended to be that way, where after enduring the beating of his life from Drago, Gunn finishes him off in the street and Rocky dies in the arms of Adrian. Stallone had that written out, and the fight went differently (more on that below). There are three main additional scenes in this cut, one where Balboa reassures his son that he is not seriously ill, an intimate scene with Adrian and a scene with ‘Little Marie’, now a prostitute, kinda funny when you weigh that up against the story of Rocky VI. It’s not hard to see why these scenes were cut – they’re just depressing an already sour movie even further. There are other minor differences here and there, a few changes in dialogue/angles etc. One improvement is the soundtrack – it uses Conti’s score and the 80’s pop from Rocky IV instead of the rap shit.
The fight scene in Rocky V is fucking underrated. It was choreographed by Terry Funk, and pro wrestlers know how to choreograph better than anyone. The Director/Funk did a nice job on it. Not an amazing job, but a nice job. I mean, compared to today’s spazzed out Nolan/Greengrass gibberish, this stuff is gold! Gunn was a pretty good bad guy too, people often forget he was nowhere near his prime and just came out of a Championship Bout minutes earlier when he challenged Rocky.
He was a good fighter and, like him or not, put up a stiff fight. He was just young. Anyway, like I said above, these types of things can often be superior in rough form/screener format – see my review of Hard Target: Director’s Cut – but that is not the case here. The fight in this version is most definitely inferior. It is by comparison sedate, devoid of adrenaline and feels like shit from a TV movie, Tommy is less of a threat and there’s too much gassy dialogue. The theatrical version flows better. Having said that, one good area of the movie is the training montage. It’s different than the theatrical version. As Rocky’s protégé, Gunn looks much more dangerous, more like a ‘wrecking machine’, indeed almost reminiscent of Lang’s training scenes in Rocky III. Probably the only cool difference out there, coincidentally using the Rocky IV montage music for added manliness.
In a nutshell, extra mumbling and sentiment. And not necessarily the positive type of the older movies. ‘The kid’ is also as annoying as ever.