Rocky II (1979)


“Yo Adriaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!! I’m baaaaaaaackkk!!”

Beginning right where the first left off, Rocky (Sylvester Stallone) marries Adrian (Talia Shire) and promises never to fight again. But when the two run into a bunch of moolah-problems and find out that Rocky can’t make a living any other way, he agrees to a rematch with heavyweight champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), who wants to prove Rocky going the distance with him in their first match was nothing more than a fluke. However, there’s more skill and smarts in Rocky, but also in Apollo. Ding ding ding!

Much like other films such as Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and plenty other flicks, Rocky may have been a classic film by all-means, but it’s reputation still gets hurt a bit by the endless need of unnecessary sequels that were made after the original. It’s already been six movies later, and I think it’s safe to say that everybody, and their mothers have had it up to here with Rocky, Adrian, Paulie, and all of the other, over-the-top villains they could pick-up next. Thankfully, this one didn’t do too much to ruin the legacy, but instead: just repeated it. Doesn’t hurt, but doesn’t help much either.

Rather than bringing the awesome John G. Avildsen back to the director’s chair, Stallone takes his own shot (pun intended) at writing and directing this flick and it isn’t as bad as you would imagine from this big baffoon. Stallone redoes everything here that we saw and loved from the first one, but this time, adds a little bit more drama and character development to it. I liked that approach because it not only showed us just how Rocky would grow-up as a father and a husband, but also as a guy that’s trying to make a living with whatever he can do other than knocking out other dudes. You never know what it’s like for these dudes after they hit their peak and realize that they have to live in the real-world, with real families, real people, and make real money, so that was pretty interesting to see from a sequel that was all about the hustle, the bustle, and the glam of being a pro-boxer and being stuck in that world. There’s also more development between Rocky and Adrian and it’s sweet to see, as we all know that they love each other, but never fully got the sense of it until now. It’s great to see them live together, inter-act with one another, and try their hardest to live in a nice home and not chop each other’s neck’s off. It’s a hard thing to do as a married-couple, but it can work.

It was getting relatively close to the 80's, so red head-bands seemed reasonable by then.
It was getting relatively close to the 80’s, so red head-bands seemed reasonable by then.

Then again, this direction isn’t anything all that special because it’s basically the same, exact movie, just done again with more character development. This wasn’t something that bothered me as much but it didn’t really offer me up any surprises that much either. You could practically put this and the original back-to-back and not really notice a difference at all: Rocky starts off like a bum, then focuses on jobs, then focuses on Adrian, then gets ready for the big fight *cue training montage*, and then the big fight at the end. That’s pretty much the same formula done for both movies and it seemed like a lazy-job on Sly’s part, mainly because we all know what happens, and aren’t thrown many surprises or curve balls to take us off-guard.

It was also kind of a problem that I didn’t really feel any true tension or excitement going into the big rematch with Creed, I was sort of just like: “ehhhh”. The first movie, regardless as to whether or not you actually saw it when it first came out, was a movie that people were just hyping up and up and up for those last 15 minutes, all because of the big fight. Not only was it bloody, gruesome, and ultra-violent, but it was also very unpredictable as nobody had any clue whatsoever as to who the hell was going to pull this off in the end. However, it’s pretty obvious where Sly is going to go with this story, which makes it even more obvious as to who the winner is going to be. I get that you don’t see these types of flicks to see something terribly new or original, considering that it’s all been done before, but you gotta give me something to chew-on here, or I’m going to lose my leg. Don’t know what that is even supposed to mean, but just go with it for now.

As much as the movie’s final-bout may not be as invigorating or compelling as the first’s, it still helps the movie gain some much-needed steam and end in the sort of way we’d be happy to cheer on. The ending fight in the first flick was a lot better, but this one still stands on its own two feet with a lot of close-calls that actually kept me on-the-edge of my seat, even though it’s pretty obvious you know what’s going to happen. It’s a good fight and definitely brought a lot more energy to the end of the film, but it was almost a bit too late in the movie to play up. Then again, it was entertaining so I’ll give it that.

No matter what though, Sylvester Stallone is definitely the main reason to see this flick because he does everything he did as Rocky in the first movie, and adds a lot more sincerity and heart onto him here. Stallone is such a likable character that the whole 1 hour and 59 time-limit could have been dedicated to him just making corny jokes to Adrian and slurring every single sentence, which he does show a lot of that here, but once he starts to hit the emotional moments, it may actually take you by surprise. Stallone has never been a Oscar-caliber actor by any means, but he definitely shows that he has the chops to pull off plenty emotional moments and have you believe in him as his character learns more about life. But like the rest of the movie, you could pretty much say that about the first one, just with a few more added-elements.

Deja vu maybe?
Deja vu maybe?

As for the rest of the cast, they’re all fine and pretty much doing the same thing they were doing with the first, just a tad different this time-around. Just a tad, mind you. Talia Shire is great to watch as Adrian as her and Rocky inter-act with one another and figure-out ways to get their marriage to work. The two have good chemistry and shines through in almost every moment they share the screen. Carl Weathers bothered the heck out of me with the first one, but does a fine job here as he keeps that annoying, showmanship-thang going on, but still gets to the human-aspect of his character as well. Ain’t so bad once the guy dials it all down, I see. Burgess Meredith is yelling at Rocky again and having a ball doing so, and Burt Young is being a drunk d-bag, that beats-up his sister, makes d-bag jokes, and bothers the hell out of Rocky. The typical, Philadelphian-bum. Gotta love ’em.

Consensus: Rocky II has the same heart, look, feel, and entertainment from the original classic, but that’s just it: it’s practically the same movie. Yeah, it’s more character-based and features development of those said characters as they move-on with their lives, but it isn’t anything special when you take into consideration how land-mark and iconic the original was, where this just seems to cash-in on that name and love. Sadly, it would continue on for a couple more years, only to be deceased by Sly himself. Thank heavens for that.

6.5 / 10 =Rental!!

So. Many. Autographs!
Beautiful shot of the city I love, and a bunch of people running away from it. Oh, sweet, sweet Philadelphia.
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16 comments

  1. Absolutely brilliant poster, why have I never seen this. A great movie for me. Not as great as one and deserving at least seven for me, but you point out the comparison to one which is fair. Glad to see a review of Rocky 2!

  2. I think this is a good movie and kind of underrated and smeels mainly, but you’re right in that it seems like they just said, “Hey, let’s make a sequel where Rocky wins this time, that should make everyone happy.”

  3. Theboriginal is still the best hands down, but Rocky II is still very good. I could even argue that it was in fact necessary….for the very reason argued here: to give the audience what they wanted.

    I think Rocky II helped establish Rocky as an iconic character. Part 1 would always remain a classic, but without him finally winning the belt, it could seem very possible that his character wouldnt have bren as iconic so many years later.

    Sequels beyond that were unnecessary though, even though I did lke aiV.

    • They did get stupid and unnecessary, but at least they kept it fun. I don’t know if winning the belt helped his image. He was already loved for just being himself and standing up to the big guy.

  4. I haven’t seen any of the Rocky movies in a looong time, and I saw them all before the age of 12. That being said, I can’t quite say what of this I remember. I just remember it being a good movie haha.

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