“If i can change, if you can change, then everybody can change” and that’s how Stallone (Rocky Balboa ) ends his speech after the final bout with Russian muscle tank, Ivan Drago in the 4th sequel of the Rocky series. A very connecting, interesting quote. It has been a well known fact that over the years Sports Films have had a deep, long lasting impact on the minds of the viewers so much so that over the decades a different kind of sports film is something of a rarity, given the number of such film we get. But to fans across the globe if they take a survey on the top 5 sports movies they ever watched, I’m dead sure at least one of the films from the Rocky series will be there. Today I felt why not let’s write something about these sports movies and about my stand on the saying that “sports teaches life” or “sports films are a metaphor of life” and I’m going to do that with reference to 2 of my most favourite movies, Rocky 4 and Ip man 2.
Firstly, about whether “Sports films are a metaphor of life”. And i would say yes, very much of a metaphor of life. One thing that everyone should understand is that any pictorial representation gives us freedom to directly derive whatever you want from it. Be it a painting or a movie. And sports movies actually lay down the characteristics of life quite directly. If the movie was to be made without this base or objective, there can be no other objective with which it can be done..I will explain taking the example of Rocky 4. Now the story of Rocky balboa is itself a very relatable one. You are a successful person, happy guy who likes the life you’re living and suddenly a bad thing affects a friend of yours and snatches him right away from you (death or separation) Now you’re are sure of the fact that whatever happened to your friend is going to happen to you too and that you have to fight for it. Come on if you say you haven’t faced similar situation, then i would say you haven’t actually felt the least unfortunate “gifts” that life can give. You can replace the Friend with any relationship and it will suit you. The reason be it death, separation, or anything.
The character of Ivan Drago is a direct shot at our minds to understand most of the things about ourselves. He’s a sportsperson who at mind thinks is very strong, but actually he is boosted up only because of the steroid he took in. The difference between him and Rocky is that Rocky has got a huge, pure heart and he has no Ego. We all would have felt at many instances that maybe we keep faking our strength. And many a times that’s supplemented with Ego.
The film shows a lot of emotional relationships, like how a partner should be and how a partner should not be, etc. The final bout shows us so much about the importance of mental strength and confidence. We can understand this from the changing opinion about the characters on one another. At 1st Ivan says that he can break Rocky and that he’s soft. Rocky, at that juncture, feels that Ivan is winning. Later on, Ivan quotes that “He is not a human. He is like a piece of iron” and Rocky realises from his coach that indeed, Ivan is a Human and not a machine. And that’s where Ivan starts to loose the fight. The way Rocky falls down and gets up at the start of the 12th round like a lightning, brings a feel of tonnes of testosterone fill up your body. The natural boxing cinematography showing the trading of punches with a synchronised music itself shows a lot of messages to take in. And hence i would say that yes sports movies (which need not necessarily be a biopic), can a called as “metaphor of life”
Secondly i want to show some interesting Similarities between these 2 movies, thereby to bring out a conclusion on whether it depends upon the so called “template” which depends upon the fate of a sports film.. So here are the Similarities.
Both the films are revenge stories. The ultimate fight in the climax is between the lead and an opponent who is of a different national, and the lead wants to avenge the death of a friend (who also was an opponent earlier) who was killed by the very same opponent in the early portion of the film. Before the fight, both the heroes would have sacrificed their time with their families so as to prepare in Solitude .The set up and the events in the last match too seem to match. There will be a huge change in the mood of the crowd before and after the match, so much so that they will give a standing ovation to a lead hero who just defeated a person from their own soil. Both the films will end up with a speech by the hero in his mother tongue, about how important it is to respect each other. Both the films end up with a scene or shot which later turns out to be a historic event or the base for another sequel, ie. In ip man 2, the final shot is about a young cocky kid named Bruce Lee, asking ip man if he would teach him wing chun and ip man refuses him and asks him to come back when he is older. In the case of Rocky, he tells his son who his back home that he loves him so much and the base in Rocky Balboa (5th sequel) has a base theme which is about the love between him and his son..
So if both the films are so similar, what makes them stand out individually? Well the answer to that will lead us to the conclusion on if the template is the most important thing. What makes them unique is the concept on which the movie was made on and how the concept engulfs the events. Ip man was about a war between 2 martial sports. It was about the people who pursue Wing Chun against the people who pursue boxing who look down at the Chinese style of boxing and disrespect the people. Here the concept has engulfed every single major moment in the film. In Rocky the story was about mutual respect for sports persons and the illegal usage of steroid substance in the sport. Here the concept doesn’t dagger out in our minds directly but flows subtly so that we remember this at every juncture. The Ip man film was more as an instance oriented as it was a direct biopic, but the Rocky 4 film just flows in into the series, starting from the death of Apollo Creed who was an important person in the series and ends with almost all the objectives fulfilled and the reason is that Rocky is an inspired film and not a biopic.
So the conclusion would be, it doesn’t depend upon the skeleton, it depends upon the muscle over it. No matter how many sports movies you watch the majority of it is going to be like the hero will be defeated at 1st then ends up winning. It will be about a stimulation or motivation. It will be about the mind game. It will be about the negative characters. It may touch upon other areas like relationship of the hero to show his mental capacity and character.But what it entails, what it tries to achieve, what has not been achieved, the characterisation and other factors which brings out the cinematic factor well is going to tell us about the fate of the movie and if it will stand out.