In the famous training montage of the 1979 film Rocky II, Sylvester Stallone’s character runs through Philadelphia, followed by a mob of kids cheering him on.
The running scenes have become a staple of the franchise, a set of films that has become a kind of reflection on life in Philadelphia.
Fast forward to 2015, and the 7th installment of the Rocky saga. Rocky’s protege —the son of Apollo Creed —does his own run through the city.
Only this time, the kids following him aren’t on foot.
They are on dirt bikes, quads and four-wheel all-terrain vehicles.
“I kind of winced at that,” chuckled Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who has seen, and praises the movie. “First of all, it’s illegal, and not something we want to promote.”
Authorities in Philadelphia have struggled for years to curb the use of wheelie-popping dirt bike riders on city streets, amid complaints from residents that the machines are loud, the riders frequently don’t wear helmets they treat traffic laws as part of a system in which breaking the rules racks up more points.
“There are some challenges,” said Lt. John Stanford. “You have guys on these bikes running in an out of traffic. It becomes a very hazardous situation for motorists and the pedestrians.”
Stanford said police are caught in a tough spot on the dirt bikes. Chasing them can make the riders even more dangerous.
Police have —in response to residents’ complaints —launched a few crackdowns. They’ve seized 158 bikes from riders this year, Standford said.
“A lot of guys riding these bikes are talented,” Stanford said. “It’s just that these talent isn’t made for city streets.”
In the film, the bikes are introduced as Rocky takes Creed, played by Michael B. Jordan, to a new training gym.
A couple of riders cruise past, prompting Creed to ask what’s up.
“It’s a Philly thing,” Rocky replies — and he praises the riders’ skills.
Tell that to Nutter.
“It’s not something we are trying to promote as a Philly thing,” he said.
A quick review of Youtube videos reveal that Nutter’s right. Riders in other cities love these things. We’re looking at you, Baltimore.
A Warner Bros. rep declined to make anyone available for this story, saying they didn’t want to get into a debate about helmet laws.
Tony Bevivino, a 36-year-old Warrington resident who caught an advance screening of the movie, said the dirt bikes were a good addition.
“If you live in the city, they’re always out there,” he said.
“Creed” is set to be released Nov. 25.
The dirt bikes can be seen in the Creed trailer below.