Everlong: Storm before the trip

Loving this tune by the Foo Fighters,
Let’s take a look at early to mid-December,
A friendly catch-up, Christmas gathering, plus some minor vehicular disasters,
All before a week-long holiday, after the year that was feels like I’d earned it,
Last month of the year, let’s see how it unfolds,
A few weeks more before signing off like a boss.

2 – 15/12/2018

I started the online blog in late November, just as I had planned to do so during one of my walks a few weeks earlier. I waited until I had already posted five entries before I flogged it on social media to family and friends as I first wanted to get the ball rolling and shake off whatever blogger’s rust I had accumulated since the last time I’d tried the whole blogging thing. I decided that this blog would be my means of recounting my health battle as brutally-honest as I could, my means of turning a curse into a blessing and to perhaps raise some form of awareness about it my own way. But I also made sure to incorporate some humor in these entries so as not to completely horrify and bum out readers.
I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel any shame over some of the symptoms I’d experienced during the worst times of the battle. Ulcerative Colitis came with some rather embarrassing – and disgusting – signs and symptoms and to have to put that shit on blast…….yeah, I definitely cringed many times. But fuck it, I’d decided that I was going to go through with this guns blazing so there was no turning back.

Don’t start what you can’t finish, Kid.

I also used that blog as a vehicle to rant about what was on my mind at a given time and to also recount some humorous stories and anecdotes from my past in order to keep my posts balanced so it didn’t have to be one disturbing story after another concerning bowel movements, blood, cramps and bouts of depression and anxiety.

Let’s keep the genres on the bookshelf varied, shall we? No one wants to read horror stories every day.

I named that blog ‘Musical Memories’, something that, to this day, I still shake my head and chuckle about. Such a name evoked images of grand stage shows with Hugh Jackman or Julie Andrews in the lead role and of actors singing about being sixteen-going-on-seventeen or considering one’s self at home. My blog was definitely on a different wavelength to all of that.
But I had my reasons.
You see, I’m a music buff and would often listen to tunes on the radio, ipod or YouTube whenever I could whether working, resting, studying or working out and that old cliché about music being able to express one’s feelings out loud definitely applied to a rather introverted person such as myself. I don’t really have a favorite artist or song, and in terms of musical genres I tended to gravitate towards hip hop and rap, but I could listen to any genre depending on my mood, although I can’t say that I’m really a fan of most of the new stuff that is out today. Hearing certain songs can trigger memories from my past, especially from childhood, and that’s why the titles of my entries, especially of stories from my past, include the song that inspired the post and why I gave the blog its rather misleading title.

I caught up with a good friend one week after the Creed 2 movie date with Pops. She was one of the few people outside of my family and my friends at the Wing Chun Academy that was aware of my colitis battle, having found out when I had to scrap plans to catch up with her sometime in August shortly after she had returned from holiday as I was still anemic and experiencing the odd bloody episode at the time.
No, I didn’t put it to her that way! I simply told her that I was diagnosed with colitis and was recovering but that I would see her once I had sufficiently recovered. She, too, provided invaluable support during my recovery and so once we were finally able to meet up I made sure to thank her before we parted ways. But first we had dinner at a Thai restaurant in the city and swapped stories about the year that was and also checked out a Japanese-themed festival happening in the park across from the restaurant afterwards. It was early summer by this time and so the sun was still shining bright even after 6pm and the park was still packed with families, groups of teenagers and young adults, girls in kimonos and of course, cosplayers dressed up as their favorite anime characters.
That night was also the first time that I took any of my meds in front of someone other than my family. She didn’t bat an eyelid or make a fuss as I swallowed those four red kidney bean-looking tablets and the catch-up session resumed afterwards, although she did ask whether they were hard or soft.
“Hard as rocks,” I laughed, “but they go down rather easily.”

On the twelfth of December the Wing Chun Academy held their annual Christmas gathering for the instructors, with a second gathering scheduled for the following night that was a tad less formal than this one and would be open for all including students. As part of the proceedings different awards were presented for the best instructor of the year, the best branch of the year, best student attendance of the year and several students that had passed a recent grading also received their certificates and badges. The rest of the night involved doing the rounds and chatting with everyone over some food before heading home.
It would also be the last time that a few of the instructors, myself included, would set foot at that place for the rest of the year before it closed for the Christmas break a few days later so I tried my best to catch up with everyone and wish them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. After all, these kind folks had checked up on me and kept me sane during my battle like corner men encouraging a professional fighter in between rounds and they continue to do so today.

Happy Holidays, my fam-away-from-home. Much love to you all.

The next morning my father drove the family vehicle, a beautiful red Holdenthat we named ‘Christina’ to the service station. Why is she named Christina, you ask? She was named after Christina Hendricks, one of the stars from that TV show Mad Men, since I had a crush on her around the time that we bought the car.
Anyway, my parents and I were scheduled to go on a week-long holiday to Tasmania in three days’ time (my sister was unable to join us due to work commitments) but for the past few days weird popping and crackling noises had emanated from Christina while out on the road plus it was time for another check-up based on the number of kilometers she had accrued. We decided to get her checked out before sailing off for our holiday.

I picked Dad up from the service station with the second family vehicle, a smaller Holden that we named ‘Sylvia’ for her silver coloring, after he had dropped Christina off.
“How long will it take with Christina?” I inquired.
“They said we’ll get her back around early afternoon”, he replied.
“Ok, cool.”
It didn’t quite work out that way.
We hadn’t heard back from the mechanic during the afternoon and so my father called to find out what was happening with Christina. Apparently, something in her motor needed replacement and while an order was placed it wouldn’t arrive at their shop until the next day and so they would have to keep Christina overnight. It wasn’t exactly the response that we were hoping for but it was for one night only so we were ok with it.
It began to storm rather hard later that night and while it seemed a tad uncomfortable at times, it also offered some respite from the increasing summer heat and humidity. But it might as well have been a bad omen for what was to come for poor old Christina.

The storm calmed down to a more manageable rain the next day when I got a call from the service station during mid-day. I was hopeful that he came bearing good news but alas, after exchanging pleasantries his first words were ‘unfortunately……’
Oh boy…….what the hell happened?
Apparently, the morons responsible for that replacement part had accidentally sent them the wrong fucking model and so they would have to hold Christina for another night while they waited for the proper model to come in the next day. The dude on the other end of the line had an apologetic and disappointed tone on his voice while I was exasperated but maintained my calm. This wasn’t his fault and throwing a tantrum wasn’t going to solve anything.
“I see. Ok, thanks for your call I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
“We’re very sorry about this, mate.”
“All good. Have a great afternoon.”
“You too. Cheers.”
And that was the end of that. I continued to pack for the upcoming trip while also trying to figure out the most painless way to tell my parents the reason behind Christina’s absence in the driveway that night two days before we were due to leave for our trip.

Well, third time turned out to be a charm – almost. The mechanic called us in the early afternoon of the fifteenth, the day before we were to leave for the trip, and gave us the ok to pick Christina up. But once my father and I got to the shop he had some not-so-good news waiting for us.
“You can have the car back before you guys go for your holiday,” he said, “but we’ll need to take a look at her again sometime after your return.”
He proceeded to explain that while they were able to fix up Christina’s motor it came at the cost of completing the tune-up as it was a time-consuming job and as it was a Saturday, they were not going to be open all day. And if I remember correctly, he revealed that they had also found another problem within her and while it wasn’t serious for the time being, it could escalate into something much worse if it was ignored for too long. It wasn’t exactly all good news but it was still a relief to be able to drive Christina home just in time for the trip.

Damn, looks like the family’s noble steed is showing her age now.

At the time, Christina was seven years old going on eight. That’s almost retirement age for most cars.

It stormed again once we arrived home, much worse than it did two days prior. I guess the storm had backed off the previous day for a breather before it returned rejuvenated and juiced to the gills with mayhem on its mind. The sound of the rain cascading against roof created a feeling of living inside a waterfall and the roads outside were washed out with massive puddles and almost resembled the canals in Venice due to flooded sidewalk drains. Watching cars and buses passing through and kicking up whitewash in their wake was a strangely hypnotic experience and sometime in the afternoon I joined the party and drove – or should I say sailed – to a nearby home / massage clinic to pick up my mother, who had booked a massage an hour earlier. Dad had drove her there before the storm unleashed its wrath and now yours truly had to get out there and guide Sylvia through the deluge, although in Dad’s defense he was busy packing his bags.
I arrived seven minutes early and so I parked the car in the driveway, sitting on the driver’s seat and experiencing the full force of the storm’s wicked orchestra. The rain’s hard drumming against Sylvia’s roof sounded like the machine gun fire from the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan and the world outside was barely visible.  Staring at that total white-out almost put me in a hypnotic trance but my peace was shattered by the sight of my mother on the side mirrors running like mad towards the car, covering her head with her bag. I quickly opened the door for her and she practically jumped in like Dennis Rodman attempting to grab a rebound, huffing and puffing from that short sprint but also still relaxed from the massage.

Talk about feeling both ends of the scale at once!

Upon arriving home we switched on the living room lights though it was only 4:30pm as the sun had been overpowered by the rainclouds. Water had also seeped through the roof of the extension outside the back of the house and so we scrambled to place rags and buckets beneath the leaks. Thank goodness that the power wasn’t cut off, such was this storm’s fury.
A part of me began to feel nervous about the trip tomorrow. Sailing on a cruise ship was to be a part of it and I really didn’t fancy living out The Poseidon Adventure for real. Oh yeah, for the record, a running joke among my family is that it seems to rain or storm during the days leading up to any holiday that we have planned and this one certainly didn’t disappoint. But I didn’t get hung up on it for too long as I still had some packing to do. I had already packed up my clothes earlier during the week so now it was down to sorting out shoes, toiletries and other accessories

That included my damn medication.

My first trip as a dude on meds. Let’s see how this goes……

I packed the required number of Imuran and Mezavant tablets for the trip, even going so far as to count them again up to five times in one hour – a ritual that I’d repeat again the following morning before finally locking my bag and heading out the door. Call me paranoid and neurotic all you want but when Dr. B warns you that the colitis could return with a vengeance should I ever slack off on my dosage it sends an unpleasant feeling through the system, that combination of a cold chill down the spine, feeling nauseous, an urge to run away and feeling faint all at the same time.
I wonder if they have a medical term for that shit
But that being said I’d recovered to the point where I no longer felt anxious about any unplanned ‘attacks’ that my damn bowels might have in store for me, enough positive results had passed to place me back into a better state of mind. But I couldn’t get too cocky, I had to continue to be mindful about my medication, meal times and even what I ate as I would be away from the safe confines of a familiar environment. Not that it was a total inconvenience but it was still a minor pain in the ass, no pun intended.

You’re still on three Imuran tablets and four Mezavant tablets, Buddy. Don’t get reckless!

My parents and I finished packing in the late afternoon before having dinner. I went to bed at around 9:30 laying in the dark for a while and meditating before drifting off to sleep to the soothing yet somewhat haunting sound of the rain drumming against the roof, the storm having thankfully calmed down for good. Hopefully all this rain would clear out by the following morning.

Money Trees: Friday Night Train

Crowded train on a Friday afternoon, finished another day of workin’,
Seven and a half hours, it’s a killer, just to bring home the bacon,
The evening’s barely started, revelers aren’t ready yet,
Still a while before they paint the city red,
‘Til then let’s take a look at some of these commuters,
Sitting or standing just minding their own business,
Up the front a group of young’uns are yapping,
Talking rap sheets and petty crime, they ain’t shy about bragging,
Poor misguided youths, how’s that worth celebrating?
Ain’t no honor in that shit, quit fronting and flexing,
They locked y’all up for acting like fools, not good for the reputation,
Won’t earn you admiration, just scorn and derision,
Y’all could end up six feet under if you keep that up,
If not in jail where some mass monsters’ll tear your asses up,
Sympathies if y’all had hard lives but it’s no excuse,
Get out or be a victim, it’s up to you,
Enough scumbags on this earth, don’t add to the statistic,
Fuck your circumstances, rise above that shit.

Train stops at another station, reels in more passengers,
A wave of humanity rushes in, don’t wanna be left standing,
It’s like a mosh pit near the doors, carriage now packed end-to-end,
Among the lucky ones seated, a young lady on the phone with a friend,
Her boisterous attitude a contrast to her formal work wear,
Mixing expletives and colloquialisms with copious amounts of laughter,
Recounting the last few days to her friend, never mind the eavesdroppers,
Gotta love her, she’s living the life, her stories’ll make your stomach hurt,
Of workplace anecdotes and escapades during weekends past,
Plans for future hang-outs, too, long-awaited catch-up can happen at last, 
Still upbeat after a long work day, gonna join the mister for a dinner date,
Enjoy the rest of your evening, Miss, say hi to your boyfriend, hope your dog’s ok.

All around the train, more than a few folks staring at their phones,
Sitting or standing, trapped in the cyber world, pain in their neck gonna be so dope,
More stations come and go, hope these zombies don’t miss their stops,
The train pulls up, eases the congestion before taking in a few more,
Among them a lady, eyes teary, looking broken and forlorn,
Took a seat near the front, wipes her eyes but the tears keep fallin’,
Hope she knows this too shall pass, tomorrow is a new day,
Whatever it is keep your chin up, hope you’ll soon be ok.
Also climbed onboard, a rough customer living on the streets,
Carrying plastic bags full of possessions, the few he was able to keep,
The city was once his playground, he was living the high life,
Fell victim to vices and his own hype, now he’s Viva La Vida come to life,
No more entourage and hangers-on, the vultures and leeches are gone,
Carcass picked clean, so much for loyalty, can’t buy real friends with money,
Fancy hotels and the high-rise a distant memory, now the sidewalks are home,
When he ain’t train-hopping or camping at stations, shelters or bus zones,
Traveling through carriages searching for solitude, away from pitying stares,
Mission impossible during peak-time, there’s no escaping the whispers.

An elderly couple takes a seat up front, where those young punks sat previously,
Married more than thirty years, going out on Friday night like they’re still mid-teens,
Still riding life’s rollercoaster, must be an epic love story,
Married at early twenties, had a few kids, now some grandkids and enjoying life’s little pleasantries,
Bemused at all these young ones with eyes glued to their phones,
They share a loving gaze and laugh, their love still solid as pure gold,
Opposite them sits two nine- to-five warriors, each with opposite demeanors,
One locked in battle with fatigue, can’t fall asleep, don’t wanna call no Uber,
Slumped against his seat, his suit rumpled, it sure was a long day,
Thank God for the weekend, how did life end up this way?
The man beside him feeling hyped for the evening, hair and suit still crisp
Left the workplace a hero, that presentation was fire, now time for some fun with the mistress,
Modern-day Don Draper, like that homeless dude once was,
Living the fast life, to hell with the repercussions,
Better keep this from the missus or she’ll put a boot up his ass,
Gotta stay sharp, fools like that tend to wind up drunk sans pants and cash.

The first of many revelers sits towards the middle, admiring herself on camera phone,
Make-up’s on point with a red dress on, hugs her in the right places, damn she lookin’ toned!
The daydreamer, fresh outta high school, sits in front of her, staring out the window,
Made her workplace debut, now deep in thought, but for real looking like she stoned,
Began the day with enthusiasm and pep, eight hours later feeling like death,
‘I didn’t sign up for this shit,’ says she, Kid you ain’t seen nothing yet,
Looked forward to Friday night with the girls but will probably change her mind,
Curling up in bed never sounded so sweet, let the rest have a good time,
A stranger sits beside her, head down and reading,
One of those modern motivational books, profanities and real talk replaced the affirmations,
Face cringing as the pages turn, this shit’s real deep,
Gonna ask questions tonight before he goes to sleep, what a way to end the working week

Then there’s the dude up back, checking his phone for a message he won’t receive,
From her, the one that he could never keep,
Mutually called it quits, they were traveling on different lanes,
Wasn’t a nasty split but still came with its own brand of pain,
After three years the co-pilots hit turbulence,
Survived the storm but couldn’t overcome their differences,
Such is life, not everything is permanent and that includes the people currently in it,
Let ‘em play their part, see who stays and who leaves,
Can’t stop ‘em on their way out, it’s pointless to beg and plead,
Cut your losses, dude, time heals all wounds,
Stay ready ‘cuz there’s someone else out there for you,
Smile at the memories y’all made together, don’t let this experience make you bitter,
Grieve if you must but don’t take it out on others.

There you have it, a few characters among the commute,
During peak-hour on a Friday afternoon to boot,
Young and old, workers and students and everyone in between,
Doing their own thing, if only some looked up from their screens,
Among the optimists and the excited, there also lie the cynics and the wounded,
Another day conquered, a victory in itself if only they knew it,
Be kind to one another, y’all, don’t know what somebody’s been through,
Listen to their stories, what lies within just may surprise and amaze you.

Ghetto Qu’ran: Movie Date

Old school tune by 50 Cent from when he was coming up,
Supposedly got him shot, he sure was heavy with the name-drops,
Still, the beat is tight, lyrics paint a picture of the hood,
Told through the eyes of a small-time dealer made good,
Listened to this on high rotation the day I fulfilled a deal with pops,
Conjured up when my trip to hell and back had just begun.


Warning: This post contains movie spoilers

When the first of the two Creed films was released back in 2015 there were mixed feelings from fans of the Rocky series as it was marketed as a spin-off film, focusing on the trials and tribulations of the long-lost biological son of Rocky Balboa’s late, great rival-turned-best friend, Apollo Creed. The plot itself was intriguing, in which Adonis Creed (with a father whose name was Apollo Creed you knew that the kid would have a name that sounded mythical) seeks out Rocky Balboa to help turn him into a boxing champion. As interesting as this film sounded there remained an air of cynicism regarding how well such a storyline would manifest itself on film without spoiling the Rocky legacy. As a fan of the Rocky films my expectations were huge and I hoped that this film wouldn’t be a train wreck.
As we now know it turned out to be a pretty good film and Michael B Jordan and Sylvester Stallone were praised for their performances as Adonis Creed and Rocky Balboa, respectively, and three years later whispers of a sequel began to circulate, culminating in a teaser trailer making the rounds on social media in late June of 2018. It was a little over two minutes long but I watched it and instantly couldn’t wait to see the rest of the movie.

Whoah! This is gonna be a good one!

The film’s release date was tentatively scheduled for December of 2018 but in my mind, the countdown had begun. Again, the film’s plot was promising, in which Adonis Creed must defend his heavyweight title against Viktor Drago, the son of the man that had killed his father in the boxing ring in Rocky 4, Ivan Drago. Yes, it was going to be a deeply personal rivalry and if that teaser trailer was anything to go by, this film appeared to be a much darker story than its predecessor.

Not going to lie, though, while I was excited to see this film a part of me, once again, felt a tad cynical. While it would finally bring closure to the still-raw rivalry between Ivan Drago and Rocky Balboa and also give Adonis Creed a chance to get even on his father’s behalf while carving out his own legacy, in my mind there was also the potential for this to head into cheesy and clichéd territory. Lord knows some of the Rocky sequels, while still worthwhile viewing, were let-downs compared to the original film that not only spawned a franchise and an iconic cinematic hero, but also ended up a success story during the 1977 Academy Awards.  And I sure as hell was hoping that the film wouldn’t include a rematch between the old versions of Rocky and Ivan. Hey, an elderly Rocky returned to the ring in Rocky Balboa for a crack at the heavyweight champion and Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren both are still in great shape despite their ages so it was a possibility. Shoot, as I write this blog Stallone is on the cusp of returning to the big screen as an elderly John Rambo preparing to once again go to war. But thank the good Lord that such a rematch wasn’t included.

I had my blood transfusion not long after the release of that teaser trailer and on that night, as my father and I sat in the hospital room waiting for that one pint of blood to make its way into my system (it still amazes me how that one little pint took four hours) I told my father about the film and that I wanted to watch it with him once I had recovered. He agreed and we fist bumped on that deal.
“Whatever it is inside of me, let’s beat it. Then we can watch Creed 2,” I told him.
Dad grinned. “Sounds like a plan, let’s do it.”

Fast-forward to the first day of December and the moment had arrived. While Mom was scheduled to catch up with some old work buddies Dad and I headed to the movies. There was already a healthy number of spectators by the time my father and I took our seats in the middle aisle of a rather spacious theatre, mostly young couples, a few fathers and their sons and of course, groups of young guys that were no strangers to the gym themselves. The theatre wasn’t exactly packed to the rafters but the turn-out was decent.
As for me, I was totally hyped as I had waited six months and gone to hell and back for this. After a ten-minute wait the theatre darkened, the screened broadened and the commercials and previews began to roll out.

It’s show time!

Over the next hour and fifty minutes I sat on my seat, transfixed at what was playing out on the screen before me, most notably the fight scenes which, in my personal opinion, were the most intense in all of the previous Rocky films and certainly more so than in the first Creed film. While the fight scenes from the firstfilmwas geared more towards the technical side of the sport, Creed 2’s fight scenes showed the sweet science at its most brutal. Adonis Creed and Viktor Drago would engage in two vicious fights in this film and the script called for the first fight to be a near-disaster for Adonis as he takes a sickening beating from his much bigger and stronger challenger in three one-sided rounds that culminates in him being knocked unconscious by a cheap shot landed by Viktor while he was already on the canvas, therefore allowing him to keep his title via disqualification but also sending him to the hospital with horrible injuries. The second fight was a more balanced back and forth war in which both fighters took turns punishing one another until Adonis finds another gear to eventually overcome Viktor. Every punch landed by both men in both fights, made doubly persuasive by the sound system in the theatre, had the audience cringing in their seats.

Damn, even jabs sound like shotgun blasts! Compliments to the fight choreographers and sound effects folks.

I think the fight scenes in this film had the potential to make any aspiring fighter sit down and reconsider their chosen paths.

Fight scenes aside I was also impressed with the character of Viktor Drago and the performance from the man-mountain that portrayed him, an amateur boxer and fitness model named Florian Munteanu. Looking back on the previous Rocky films, every opponent that Rocky – and Adonis – faced in the ring were charming and charismatic (or in the case of Rocky 4’s Ivan Drago, straight-up intimidating) but also unlikeable enough to compel the audience to root for the heroes while hoping that the villain would be sensationally humiliated, win or lose, in the obligatory climactic fight scene towards the end of the films.
Not so Viktor Drago. In fact, if you read the comments under any YouTube video related to him or Florian Munteanu you’ll find that the character has many supporters, with many going so far as to say that they found themselves rooting for him in the end, which surely has to be a first for any antagonist from the Rocky franchise. You won’t find many stating that they were glad he ultimately had his ass handed to him by Adonis.

Maybe it’s because he is the son of arguably the most lethal antagonist from the Rocky series but the dude was written to be a fearsome brute like daddy dearest and also as a sympathetic figure. He has inherited his father’s strong, silent approach and does his best talking through his fists but also through his eyes, facial expressions and body language. His eyes widen with terror and shame whenever his father berates him, they furrow with rage and determination during fight scenes and every punch he throws during fights and in training are punctuated by loud grunts and growls, as though his punches are delivered with every ounce of his strength and the anger and trauma within him behind them. He also wears a look of contempt on his face later during the film when he is addressed to by some Russian aristocrats that had jumped onto the bandwagon once his career took off (the same types of people that he believes betrayed his father, hence his anger) and he recoils in sheer horror and disgust in the same scene when he is reunited with the mother that abandoned him and his father many years prior, after which his stoic façade finally breaks and he expresses his true feelings out loud during a heated discussion with his father in the very next scene about the nature of fickle, disloyal fans and runaway family members.
For someone making his film debut, Munteanu did a great job communicating with a minimal use of words although as a real life fighter he wouldn’t have needed much help with the fight scenes and was likely told to just be himself in that ring.

Man, I feel sorry for anyone that has to face this monster in the ring for real.

Unlike previous Rocky villains Viktor does not fight for championship belts, fame and fortune. Rather, he fights for the one thing that has sustained him throughout his life – the desire to one day feel his father’s love and respect. You see, following the events of Rocky 4 Ivan Drago was branded a national disgrace in his native Russia after losing to Rocky Balboa and was subsequently banished from his country. At the beginning of Creed 2 Ivan is a bitter old ex-fighter living in a run-down apartment in a rough section of Kiev in Ukraine with Viktor, whom he has raised entirely on his own following a divorce from his wife, who the audience later learns has remarried and lives a life of luxury in Moscow.
Ivan, still seething with rage after all these years at the way his life had turned out, is left to raise his son the only way he knew how – to groom him to be every bit the brutal wrecking machine that he was during his own boxing career and to use him as a means to regain his lost honor and prestige while also subjecting him to his own brand of ‘tough love’ that involves emotional and, at times, physical abuse.

Put simply, Viktor was ‘raised in hate’ as Rocky would tell Adonis at one point during the film.

Ivan often scolds and belittles his son during workouts and even between rounds during fights. During the first fight against Adonis for example, he chastises Viktor for failing to knock Adonis out in the very first round and after the second round of that fight comes and goes, during which Viktor again brutalizes Adonis but fails once again to finish him off and even absorbs a hard counter punch from the defiant champion shortly before the bell ends the round, Ivan angrily calls his son an embarrassment and even goes so far as to blame him for his wife’s departure from their lives.
Man that has got to hurt. A rabbit punch followed by a low blow that one was.
And Ivan’s preferred method of waking Viktor up every morning to train is to punch him in the stomach – and not with a friendly love tap, either. We’re talking about a hard jab to the bread basket that jolts his sleeping son awake.

Despite all this, Viktor harbors no ill will towards his father and looks to him as the only person in his life that he can trust. Having been on the wrong end of his father’s wrath his entire life and having been abandoned by his mother at an early age, it is clear that there is a wounded, insecure soul within the gruff exterior yearning to feel loved, even just for a short time.
Geez, Ivan, wake the fuck up and love your son, dude.
The climactic rematch between Adonis and Viktor rolls underway in Moscow towards the end of the film in front of Russia’s social elite, with Viktor’s mother and her husband in attendance. This fight is make-or-break for the Dragos, for Ivan it is a chance to reclaim what he had lost while Viktor senses it as an opportunity to finally earn his father’s respect. Viktor jumps to an early lead but a determined Adonis, fuelled by a desire to gain a measure of revenge for the death of his father at Ivan’s hands and to also put his previous encounter with Viktor behind him, refuses to yield and gradually turns the tide. He eventually outlasts the bigger challenger and in the end, Viktor finds himself fatigued, bloodied and discouraged, compounded by his mother and her husband eventually storming out of the arena when it becomes clear that Viktor’s chances of winning had evaporated.
Abandoned by his mother twice. Damn.
Adonis eventually traps a weary and demoralized Viktor on the ropes and unloads on him, forcing Ivan, who had finally realized that Viktor was right about his ex-wife and the fickle, disloyal people that he had sought to impress, to throw in the towel to save his son from further punishment – the first time we see Ivan perform an act of love towards the son he was hostile towards throughout the film.  

As Adonis celebrates his victory with his family and friends, Viktor stands in his corner with his head bowed in shame and he shoves Ivan away as Ivan approaches him, believing that he is about to be disowned for his failure. But Ivan instead pulls his son into an embrace and tells him, “it’s ok, Son. It’s ok,” and from there Viktor finally allows years of pent-up emotions to run wild as he sobs in his dad’s arms like a wounded pit bull being comforted by its master. He finally feels his father’s love, earning a victory of sorts in defeat.
A sports drama film that included redemption for both the hero AND the villain, provided closure for one of the most memorable characters in the Rocky series and some father and son love thrown in for good measure? Man, what a film! My father was certainly impressed, his first words to me once we had walked out of the cinema was, “that was the best film I’ve seen in a long time.”

Nicely done, Sly. Nicely done.

My father and I had a rather late lunch at the mall afterwards before heading home to do some work in the backyard, planting seeds, pruning trees and watering the plants. Even as the clock nudged 4:30pm, the sun shone as brightly as it did during the morning. Summer had well and truly arrived and it was all good vibes from here.

Life was good!