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What do Rocky and Rambo have in common?

Obviously, Sylvester Stallone. But also God-talk. The chatter around that man—and his films—has been interesting and chock full of it.

The most interesting piece comes by way of Jeffrey Overstreet, who points out an interview with Stallone at Infuse regarding his faith (yes, it appears he’s a confessing Christian) and religious aspects in the Rocky films including the upcoming Rocky Balboa (releasing Dec. 20). Interesting tidbits:

So I, as I get older, I realize how - very much - I rely upon Jesus, the word of God, and his support and how I pass it on to my children because I want them to learn at an early age by - usually find out that we have to sometimes learn the hard way and then it really takes hold and that's what this is all about. Rocky, in the last -- in Rocky Balboa -- has lost everything. And, we see him triumph and the last thing that he hears before he enters the ring is scripture and that's what gives him the strength and people realize that he doesn't fight for money, he doesn't fight for glory, it's fighting for a purpose and fighting for a divine reason to show that through him, through the ability, the God-given ability that he has that he can show other people the way to be an example.
As we know, Hollywood is somewhat of an isolated community and it is a money-driven community and I wouldn't say faith is right up there at the forefront and people need to drive home that fact and though it may sound mercenary and self-serving, if we are to continue to do films like Rocky, like The Passion, like films that you can take your family to it, and by the way you can show year after year after year because the theme never goes away, then we have to go out and support it- that's the only message they understand and though they supposedly, you know, are very liberal; what rules here, unfortunately, is success and it doesn't matter in what form. Well, I think it does matter. Everything that I've done that has been bad deserved to fail, because it had no spiritual message -- nothing. This one deserves to succeed because it has a message, that like you said, you can bring your child to and he can bring his child to it, long after I'm gone. And that is as long as you have, as Mickey says "an angel on your shoulder", as long as you have Christ in your heart, there is no such a thing as losing. Period.
I think that it's pretty evident today that, it's pretty evident today that there are many young directors out there who have a visual eye and they can shoot anything and it also is very evident there are many directors out there that cannot tell a story. They can shoot pretty pictures but they can't move the heart. . . . Because when you write from the heart, out comes the spiritual message. You just know that you're dealing with the human condition and quite often, even though you may not say the word Jesus in every line, you can feel it working through the characters, you can feel the Christian brotherhood, the humanity, the compassion, the God-fearing script is what, I'm serious a God-fearing script is what Hollywood needs.
Go read the rest here. When you’re done there, see Peter Chattaway at FilmChat (who, interestingly, just published an article on the ethnicity of Jesus in film in the sister pub to the one I used to work for) who writes up a nice piece on Rocky, religion, and chronological errors. You know, even though boxing and prison films are usually off my list, I must admit I’m warming towards Balboa. Early reviews are up at World of KJ (where it gets a “B”), BlogCritics Mag (4 stars), and an emailed-in-review at AintItCoolNews (“one of the year’s best”).

On the Rambo end, Chattaway also points to a Rambo IV script review by (warning: there be spoilers there), which confirms that the film’s plot revolves around Rambo’s recruitment by a group of Christian missionaries to “protect them against pirates, during a humanitarian aid deliver to the persecuted Karen people of Burma. After some of the missionaries are taken prisoner by sadistic Burmese soldiers, Rambo gets a second impossible job: to assemble a team of mercenaries to rescue the surviving relief workers.” Given Stallone’s interview above, it will be interesting to see how this film plays out—if it can get past the hokey factor (which, you must admit, Balboa seems to have done). According to IMDB, the film is in pre-production and due out in 2008.

(Image: Rocky Balboa poster, MGM; Rambo IV poster, Lions Gate Entertainment/Wikipedia)