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In the Ring with Sylvester Stallone

Posted by doktakra on June 15, 2011 at 11:24 AM Comments comments (0)

I tried to not get too excited when Michelle, my wonderful wife (still feels weird to not say, "fiancée"), told me that she was able to get two VIP tickets from Showtime Sports to the Boxing Hall of Fame weekend, where Sylvester Stallone would be one of the inductees. Never mind the merits of a Hollywood actor who played a boxer over the span of four decades getting recognized among the sport’s all-time greats – someone joked that by the same token, Whoopi Goldberg should be in the Basketball Hall of Fame for her role in Eddie – we’re talking about Sly freakin’ Stallone here.


Now, I’m sure most guys own the first Rocky, many have the entire box set, and every single one stops whatever they’re doing if they catch the last few minutes of any movie from the series on cable. About three years ago, I took it a step further and and started a Stallone DVD collection (if you’re wondering, I have a couple of Frank Stallone movies, too, such as the brilliant Terror in Beverly Hills). The only Sly movie I still don’t own is Rhinestone, partly because its IMDB description is, “A country music star must turn an obnoxious New York cabbie into a singer in order to win a bet” (must see!), but more so because it’s out of print and sells for $71 on Amazon. So, yes, I guess you could say that I’m insane a Stallone fan.


Last year, I came across a Rocky mini-poster at a New York street fair, and it’s been displayed on our credenza ever since, patienly waiting for an autograph. If I lived in a dorm room, I would absolutely hang my old Rambo poster on the wall, too, but apparently adults in their mid-twenties are expected to act like grown-ups. I almost forgot to even bring the Rocky poster with me, but luckily, Michelle remembered and went back to get it.


Anticipating that Stallone would make an appearance at the Saturday morning golf event or the afternoon celebrity workout session at the Hall of Fame grounds, Michelle and I made the four-hour drive to Canastota, NY on Friday night. When we arrived at the course the next morning, it turned out that no one, including the chairman of the Hall, had any idea when (or if) Stallone, who was shooting a movie in Texas, would arrive. A security guard at the museum then told us that Sly wouldn’t come until Sunday’s ceremony and would leave immediately afterwards. There goes my plan.


With little else to do, we stuck around on the golf course and met a few boxing legends, including “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler, Ken Norton, Leon Spinx, and Kostya Tszyu. I’m sure these names mean something to avid boxing enthusiasts, perhaps as much as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julius Erving, and Moses Malone would mean to me as a basketball fan, but their autographs seemed like mere consolation prizes at the time.


When we arrived at the Awards Banquet dinner later than night, I told Michelle that I was bringing the Rocky poster anyway. “I know he won’t be there, but just humor me,” I told her.


Inside, we realized that Michelle got the serious hook-up (holla if you hear me!) with the VIP seats. We were sitting at table four of over 150, alongside a New York senator (not Anthony Weiner, unfortunately), and directly in front of Don King, who was among the boxers, trainers, and celebrities seated at long tables behind the podium. We spotted a placecard for Stallone, and I took a picture in front of it, figuring it would be the closest I’d ever get to seeing him in person.


Not surprisingly, when the celebrities were introduced and walked onto the stage, Stallone’s name was skipped from the order. But after the last boxer sat down, the announcer gave one last unexpected intro.


“And now, ladies and gentlemen, you know him as Rocky Balboa, 2011 Hall of Fame inductee, Sylvester Stallone!”


No way. I watched with my mouth agape as Stallone walked out from behind a curtain to a rousing ovation and shook hands with every person on the stage. “Holy crap. Stallone is here. I might faint,” I Tweeted (half-jokingly) after getting close enough to get a picture.

 



I started daydreaming about how I’d tell Sly I own all but one of his movies, how he’d laugh after hearing which one I don’t have, and how I’d show him pictures of me and Michelle dressed up as Rocky and Adrian on Halloween. Yes, I live in a fantasy world.


Shockingly, it turned out that I wasn’t the only person who was interested in seeing a famous movie star. Hundreds of people crowded near his table, watching his every move and snapping photos like paparazzi. I asked a couple at our table, who’d attended the last 10 inductions, whether I had any chance of getting Stallone’s autograph, and was told that the odds were “slim to none.” Damn it.


After three hours of speeches, video clips and auctions (I unsuccessfully bid on signed photos of Burt Young and Mr. T), the dinner unceremoniously ended and the crowd rushed the stage. By the time I ran across the room to Stallone’s table, nearly a thousand people were already holding up boxing gloves, photos and ticket stubs for him to sign.


Instead of organizing the fans into one line in front of him, the security guards yelled for everyone to move back and threatened to end the autograph session. Of course, no one listened, and it turned into a mob scene – people pushed, elbowed and stepped on others’ feet, with no regard for women or children. I fully expected to wake up with bruised ribs the following morning after enduring a worse beating than Ivan Drago (sorry, I had to go there).


 
I made it to the front of the crowd – at this point, shoving just like everyone else – three times in different locations, just barely missing Stallone, but I kept picturing Adrian telling me to win. I could barely even see Sly over the outstretched arms and memorabilia in front of my face (you can see my attempts in photos above), but on my fourth try to get his attention, he finally took the poster out of my hand, put it down on the table (getting a little cheesecake on it in the process) and signed it. I felt like I just took down Clubber Lang after 15 grueling rounds.


When I was able to escape the vicious crowd, I searched for Michelle, who as I soon found out, went through a similar experience while trying to get Sly’s autograph for me on the other side of the stage (if you haven’t realized it by now, she’s awesome). After nearly getting trampled over, she just barely missed Stallone as he ducked behind the curtain right in front of her. She might’ve been even more excited than me when I showed her my signed poster.



The next day, Stallone was officially inducted and received his Hall of Fame ring. True to form, his entire speech was a nod to Rocky, with several quotes from and an emphatic, “Yo, Adrian, I did it!” finale. It almost felt like being in a movie, with the crowd giving him a long standing ovation and chanting “Rocky!”  Is it really that far-fetched to think he'll go up against Mike Tyson (which Stallone said almost happened once before) in Rocky VII?

 



Sly left shortly afterward, and although he didn't pose for pictures or do much signing, he acknowledged the fans and shook my hand as he was escorted to his car.  It should also be noted that moments before he walked by, I stood right next to Frank, who said something like, “the real star is up ahead.”


As Michelle and I drove back to the city, I looked at the poster again in disbelief. I read the tagline underneath Stallone's signature – “Their lives were a million to one shot” – and I couldn't help but smile.  I couldn't have said it better myself.

Judging Stallone's Dredd-ful Commercials

Posted by doktakra on August 6, 2010 at 3:01 PM Comments comments (2)

As I've mentioned before, I'm a huge Sylvester Stallone fan.  I own all but one of his movies on DVD, which even Sly himself thinks is awesome.  If you're wondering, the lone exception is Rhinestone, in which he stars as a cab driver-turned-country singer alongside Dolly Parton.  Don't get me wrong, I'd happily buy it -- I mean, have the unwatchable Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot and Oscar in my collection -- but I refuse to pay $78.99 (!) for a movie that won Stallone a Razzie Award for Worst Actor.

 

With that in mind, I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I had no idea my favorite actor has filmed several amazing international commercials.  He's pulled out all the stops while pushing Japanese ham, sausage, and beer in the early '90's, as well as Italian ham and Russian vodka earlier this decade.  Let's take a look at some of these instant classics.

 

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In case you weren't aware, war hero John Rambo loves Japanese pork products, so naturally, Sly would use Rambo III footage to promote "Ito" ham in 1992.  As he dodges explosions and runs on the beach, all he can think about are those delicious slices of cured meat.  But wait, that's not all Stallone has in store in this double-feature.  He reminisces about his boxing days (I'm guessing the trainer is supposed to resemble an overweight Mickey) before biting into more of that succulent ham at the dinner table. Works for me.

 

 

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This two-minute-long opus looks like a bad parody of several of Stallone's movies, but it's actually a series of five commercials he filmed for "Kirin" and "Knorr."  We begin with a long-haired Stallone sprinting a la Rocky during a training sequence, and discover that he enjoys drinking Japanese beer after his workout.  Of course he does.  "We can make dreams come true...together," he says.  What dreams exactly?  I have no idea. The creepy "Together" song continues as Sly then informs us that his life is about love, courage, and ... "Kirin" beer. Whose isn't?  It gets only slightly weirder when Stallone rides a horse through a desert before once again consuming his favorite alcoholic beverage.  Together.

 

But what's the point of having Stallone at his peak if he isn't showing off his ripped, shirtless body?  Rocky-era Sly, wearing only a pair of short-shorts that leave little to the imagination, jump-ropes and tussles his hair in slow motion as a half-dozen little kids stare at him through the window.  If that doesn't make you want to buy soup, I don't know what will.

 

And finally, Sly shells more of that delicious "Ito" ham during the holiday season -- just what every child wishes Santa will bring on Christmas morning.

 

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I'm not a golfer, so maybe I'm wrong about this,.but most people don't daydream about sausages on the course.  Sly, however, fantasizes about pricking "Bayern" wieners after taking couple of swings.  He also feels the same way following a strenuous biking session, and even when he's bringing a bouquet of flowers to a woman's door.  The man simply craves Japanese sausage at all times.

 

 

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Did you know that Stallone plays the cello?  Well, he does, and you should eat (what else?) "Ito" ham to celebrate this fact.

 

 

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In an equally confusing ad, Sly walks through a flower garden, donning an all-white suit and matching hat, and delivers a package of that wonderful ham to an extremely excited and hungry family.

 

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Lest you think Sly only enjoys Japanese pork products, he's also quite fond of Italian prosciutto.  In a 2002 spot for "Citterio," he plays a James Bond-like action hero who kills a few jewel thieves and saves a damsel in distress -- a real stretch for Stallone.  When she asks for his name, he tells her it's "Bubi" and gets mercilessly ridiculed.  I might be missing something here, but there's nothing funny about Stallone getting humiliated -- I saw more than enough of that during the first 90 minutes of Rocky II. Let's move on.

 

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In 2008, Stallone signed on to pitch "Russian Ice" vodka under the slogan, "There is a bit of Russian in all of us."  You might be saying, "wait -- didn't Rocky once destroy Soviet boxer Ivan Drago and didn't Rambo kill hundreds Russian troops?"  Well, that's all forgiven because Stallone's great-grandmother was born in the Ukrainian town of Odessa, so he's kinda Russian.

 

I love that this dubbed commercial begins with a close-up of Stallone's shirt -- which of course says, "Sly." -- just in case the Russian viewer has no idea who he is. He goes on to tells us that he get his coffee only from Brazil, his suits from Italy, and his computers from Japan (as well as, presumably, his pork).  Stallone then encounters a group of thugs who are "probably from another planet," takes off his fancy watch, and tells them, "this will hurt" in broken Russian.  I was waiting for him to look into the camera and end it with, "best served on the Rocky's!" but thankfully, he just chuckles uncomfortably  Just like I did while watching all of these unintentionally hilarious commercials.

Second Round K.O.

Posted by doktakra on November 5, 2009 at 12:45 PM Comments comments (2)

I was never a big Halloween fan.  Even as a kid, the first and only time I ever put a hint of effort into my costume was in fourth grade, when I convinced my parents to buy me a horror movie mask that I wore to school with my normal clothes.  For the nine years that followed, I went the cheap cop-out easy route by putting on my trusty Mitch Richmond jersey and "dressing up" as a Sacramento Kings fan.  During my freshman year of college, one of my roommates and I snuck into the New York City Halloween Parade.  There I was, marching among the most creative and interesting costumes around -- including a man wearing a suit made entirely of MetroCards -- in (what else?) a replica Chris Webber jersey.  I decided that was the last time I'd celebrate Halloween.


But of course, in a year filled with changes, I came out of my semi-retirement.  Since I'm (we're?) obsessed with the Rocky movies, Michelle and I ended up going to the Halloween Masquerade Ball at Bryant Park Grill dressed as the Italian Stallion and Adrian, after also giving some consideration to Mickey and Ivan Drago.  We went the distance, spending weeks planning out our costumes and applying a few final touches on fight night (check out the shiner she gave me).  If you're wondering, we kept track of the number of times people yelled out, "Hey, Rocky!" or challenged me to a fight versus the number of times Michelle heard, "Yo, Adrian!"  After taking an early three to one lead, I ended up losing by a split decision, most likely because "Yo, Adrian!" is just so much more fun to say.  


And as you might know, if I can change, and you can change, then everybody can change.  Click here for the full album.


And You Don't Stop

Posted by doktakra on July 2, 2008 at 10:04 AM Comments comments (6)

I'm not sure if you already know this, but I'm a huge Rocky Balboa fan. I own all six movies from the set (including the barely-watchable Rocky V) and I'll still watch them when they air on basic cable.  Well, a few weeks ago, I discovered a great deal on the Rambo Collector's Set, courtesty of the fine folks at FatWallet, which inevitably led to a new obsession. I am now fixated on crappy awesome Sylvester Stallone movies. I'm especially drawn to such 1980's classics as Over the Top (he plays an arm-wresting champ trying to reunite with his son) and Victory (he's the goal-keeper on a concentration camp soccer team that plays the Germans).  And of course, I love the standard '90's crap that has no chance of scoring above 30% on Rotten Tomatoes -- see The Specialist (4%!), Demolition Man, and Judge Dredd. Basically, if Sly is in it, I want it, bad.  I won't stop until I have them all.  Well, aside from that horrible movie with Dolly Parton and his first role in a 70's porno....actually, scratch that, I'll get both eventually.

My updated, 21-movie collection includes:

  • Rocky, II, III, IV, V,?Balboa (6 total)
  • First Blood, Part II, III,?Rambo (4 total)
  • Victory
  • Cobra
  • Over the Top
  • Tango & Cash
  • Lock Up
  • Cliffhanger
  • Demolition Man
  • Driven
  • The Specialist
  • Cop Land
  • Judge Dredd

At a time when I'm trying to curb needless spending, I'm getting more DVDs every week. I can easily justify these purchases though, since Sly movies are one of life's biggest neccessities.

Please donate to the "DoktaKra.com Stallone Fund" by sending money to my Paypal account. No donation is too small.

UPDATE: I picked up four more movies during a Circuity City clearance sale (is $6.99 really a clearance??) I now have 25 movies, after the additions of Paradise Alley, DaylightOscar, and The Lords of Flatbush. I've watched only Daylight so far, and it was surprisingly good....seriously, if you can overlook some shoddy acting, it's highly entertaining. And Sly doesn't even take his shirt off --seriously, not once!


UPDATE:
 I'm not sure if I should be pleased or slightly ashamed of this, but Amazon.com knows me a little too well at this point.  I logged in this morning, and saw the greeting below. I might need to reconsider some of my life choices.

Latest from Sylvester Stallone

Spy Kids 3-D Game Over (Two-Disc Collector's Series)
The adventures of pint-sized secret agents Juni and Carmen Cortes (Daryl Sabara and Alexa Vega) continue. As Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over opens, Juni has left the spy agency and launched a career as a private detective--but when he learns that his sister Carmen has disappeared into a nefarious multi-user computer game, he... Read?more? $14.99? $10.99


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