Release Date: June 15th, 1979
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
Written by: Sylvester Stallone
Music by: Bill Conti
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Tony Burton, Joe Spinell, Frank McRae, Frank Stallone, Chino ‘Fats’ Williams (uncredited)
United Artists, 120 Minutes
“I feel like a Kentucky Fried idiot.” – Rocky Balboa
Rocky II picks up right where Rocky left off but that was how most of these sequels worked and why all of the original five Rocky films seem like a long continuing narrative. This is the only one though, that feels like a true continuation but that’s mainly because of its quality and its similarity to the first. Plus, Rocky goes head-to-head with Apollo Creed, one more time.
And not to take anything away from the other sequels, I like them all, but it is necessary to point out that this one is almost as good as the first and it really feels like the second half of one larger story.
The premise sees Apollo questioning himself, after a nobody went the distance with him for fifteen rounds. He is the world champ and he let some bum come in and nearly usurp him as the top dog in the sport. While Rocky wants to live a life after fighting, Apollo constantly baits him and berates him publicly until Rocky decides to take the rematch and see if he has what it takes to defeat Apollo and become the world champion.
John G. Avildsen didn’t return to direct this chapter, so Stallone took the directorial reins himself and he did a pretty fine job. This was his second time behind the camera after 1978’s wrestling film Paradise Alley and it is a much better film than that one.
The majority of the cast returns and it’s actually great seeing them back. I love all these characters and getting to spend more time with them is great, even Joe Spinell’s Gazzo, the neighborhood loan shark.
The film explores the life of a fighter after fighting. Sadly, Rocky can’t find his place in the world and ultimately goes back to what he knows best. But all the while, he marries his love, has a son and rises to the challenge put before him.
Rocky II might not be as good as the original but it’s damn close. I love how Bill Conti’s score evolved for this film and I love the banter between Rocky and Apollo. You see their admiration and respect for one another start to blossom, which would lead to a solid friendship in the films after this one.
I’ve always been a fan of the Rocky movies, and so when my son said that he liked boxing earlier this year, I decided to finally introduce him to this series of movies. He enjoyed them, but it was my particular journey as a filmmaker that Bisbee me a new perspective on his series. I walked away this time looking at the entire arch of Rocky’ s journey as a 35 year old boxer, becoming a father, and the after math of his tough career. Stallone, is a talented director, actor, and writer, which is show cased through this series.
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Even though some chapters in the series are weaker than others, I still love the whole series as an overall story. Yeah, ‘Rocky V’ had its issues but I think the crux of what it was about was really important to where Stallone felt he needed to take the character and how he wanted to showcase the health dangers that boxers face over the course of time. Plus, it showed how boxers were often times taken advantage of financially. And George Washington Duke was obviously Don King, who was a shark at the forefront of the sport, at the time.