I stated in a previous blog entry that the general movie viewer, do make fun of movie montages, because of the stigma that is attached to them. But I bet if you took these same people, back into the 1980's when montages were 'in vogue', then I do believe their opinion would drastically change.
This is by far the hardest instalment I will be doing for this subject. The reason? There are so many montages, that need to be put in here, but if I did that, I think the site would crash due to the amount of pure FUCKING BADASSERY AND AWESOMENESS. I will pick some of my favourites, and also ones that do deserve some recognition. I think majority of you will already know, which ones I will pick.
Rocky. The movie that started it all. I could not write this entry and not mention the first movie, that really explored the montage. In this montage, the music and the atmosphere go hand in hand. Bill Conti orchestrated a brilliant score, and it's one of the most memorable in cinematic history. Not too shabby right? 1976 was an interesting year for movies. It was definitely the year of the Drama genre. Rocky is a drama film, but with something more. Most drama orientated films that get released, don't do a thing for me. A lot of it is recycled to the point, you don't care what happens to the characters. With the film Rocky, you care about what happened to every single character, even that dirtbag Pauly. Why? Because it is a true underdog story. And I know I will get people sitting behind their computer that will laugh at what I am about to say. Stallone really conveyed a depth most actors wish, they could possess naturally. He proves in this film, he indeed can act. Seeing his character possess such a depth, makes you really root for him. You want to see him go the full distance with Apollo Creed, so having this training montage to show the effort he was willing to put in, is admirable.
No Retreat No Surrender is an underrated montage in my opinion. Sure it screams 'HOLY SHIT THIS IS THE 80'S', but the song is catchy, it fires you up, and again it's an underdog story. Sure the characters they are playing are teenagers, and to see teenagers having that kind of dedication to their mind and body, is pretty kickass. While most kids in 1980's movies were joining street gangs and pissing off Linda Blair in such films as Savage Streets, you have to be happy that these kids are pretty damn wholesome. It was also awesome to see that Jason, has a friend in RJ and will help him train...even in the most compromising positions. I am so glad I found this in a bargain bin, because finding this was like finding buried treasure. The film as a whole, is brilliant, sure it's not perfect, but it has heart. And you can see that from all the actors, as absurd as some of them might be...say like this guy
Man I just had to put this guy in there, I mean look at this fatty, he's indulging the fuck out this chocolate cake, and he takes Karate...Now his montage would have been a classic.
There are no words, which can convey my happiness for the all the montages that are used in the cinematic masterpiece, Rocky IV. This montage has a great deal of depth to it. Here we see Rocky training in Siberia with Pauly and Duke. Now this isn't like any other kind of training he has done before. The training he did with Apollo was tough. But this is tough on a much grander scale. They don't have the typical facilities you would see in a normal boxing gym. And seeing this in comparison to Ivan Drago's training, you think 'Fuck...Drago is going down'. He is that willing to avenge Apollo's death, he will work with what he's got. And that dedication my friends is how a real champion is made.
Cannon were really onto something when they produced one of the best American Martial Arts movies, to grace the big screen...Bloodsport. What I love about training montages that involve Van Damme, is that they incorporate a way of training,which is used in a lot of different films, but they don't have the same charm. I could have put King of the Kickboxers in this entry and while I do love that movie, the montage is just not up to scratch with the likes of Bloodsport. I love this montage in particular, because you see Dux become a man. He wants to honour his Shidoshi and what better way than being trained from scratch by him. Sure we see Dux become more physically fit, but this montage is more about the mind and getting Dux to really focus. And it is conveyed perfectly. Van Damme can really act, when given the chance, and this training montage proves it.
Yeah it's that time again for the last Rocky IV montage. Did you really think I was going to leave this one out? This is just badass. And what is awesome about this is the fire up song. 'Hearts on Fire' by John Cafferty is a song that possesses everything that was awesome about the 1980's. I love this one, because while the previous Rocky IV montage is outstanding, this is just in another league. In the previous montage Rocky is just finding his feet in terms of how to train, because he is really working with the bare essentials. And now seeing that Adrian has come all this way to be with him during this life adjustment, he knows that he will train harder now. AND FUCK DOES HE TRAIN HARDER!! I just love how ripped and shredded we see Stallone. He is fucking super human in this film. Now in the movie people thought Drago was super human with his strength and build, but he has a dirty little secret...STEROIDS MOTHERFUCKER! And while we see Stallone becoming more fit and shredded and prepared, we do see Drago struggle. The Russian boxing team in this film are shown to have a lot of pride, and if Drago is struggling, they need to keep their game face on, with the help of steroids.
And to all my buddies out there who know how much I love Kickboxer, know that I would never leave out this montage. No fucking way! Kickboxer, is hands down Van Damme's best work. And man this montage is a big orgasm for me. It possesses everything I love about martial art montages. At first we see Kurt struggle, and he is pretty much failing to impress Xian. He is struggling to learn what Xian sees as the basics. But once he makes Kurt remember why the hell he is doing this, he reacts like any normal dude out seeking revenge...HE KICKS DOWN A MOTHERFUCKING TREE!! And from then on we see, the most amazing progress. I love the musical score to this. It conveys a slow, burning passion for Kurt, in terms of wanting to avenge his brother but also his passion to be more strong, physically and emotionally. And did I mention HE KICKS DOWN A MOTHERFUCKING TREE!!!
And now we have reached the last montage for this entry. And in my opinion, probably the best. I know a lot of people prefer Rocky IV's montages and so did I for a long time. But this montage is just pure bliss. The reason? A friendship really established between Rocky and Apollo in the third instalment of the franchise. Rocky is in the worst slump he has ever been in. Mickey has just died, and he lost in such an embarrassing manner to Clubber Lang. Apollo feels that he needs to help Rocky. And at first he just couldn't get into Apollo's way of training. It is totally different, to what he was used to. And then for a short time, we did think that Rocky was never going to get out of this. But an argument with Adrian soon puts things in perspective. And what we see in this montage, is just the same underdog we saw in the first Rocky movie. He is finding his feet again, but the determination and passion is back. Some might say, the eye of the tiger? See what I did there? You saw it. The ending of this montage could not be more awesome. Because Rocky knows how far he has come, and seeing him that happy always puts a smile on my face. And frolicking in the water with Apollo, just adds that touch of class.
I just want to take the time to dedicate this to my big brother James. If it wasn't for him showing me all these movies growing up, I wouldn't have this passion and excitement that I do. I remember when we used to pretend to be Rocky and Apollo and re-enact the fight scenes, and those are some of the best memories I have of us. These montages will also remind me of all the hard work you put into your training as a boxer. If you had a montage of yourself training as hard as these guys which you did, it would be up here too. Thanks a bunch bro!
I hope you have enjoyed my dedication to movie montages. It has been a pleasure writing about this. And expressing my joy and passion for these kind of movies. These montages are really important because, they show us how hard our heroes work and how champions are made.