FiLM REViEW: Rocky II, 1979

For years I’ve avoided almost all franchises and follow-ups in the world of films. With just a few exceptions.

Having recently watched Rocky, and thoroughly enjoyed it, I thought I’d give Rocky II a go. Stallone wrote, directed and starred in this follow up to his breakthrough, whereas the first movie was directed by John G Avildsen.

Rocky II starts with an extended précis of the end of Rocky, which is kind of weird. Nowadays such things would be much slicker and shorter. But it’s kind of cute!

The movie’s premise is very simple: Rocky is torn between his love for Adrian, and a desire to retire from boxing (and his gangster/street life hustle), and Apollo Creed’s taunting calls for a re-match.

The Stallone/bandana affair starts here.

It’s not as well directed as Rocky, but it still has a lot of heart, as they say. And Rocky’s struggle to reconcile his warring emotions and the pressures of providing for a wife, and possibly a kid, all make for an engaging if simple story.

Creed and his camp are good again, as the worldly wise and business savvy slick big timers. And we get to see the domestic impact on both Creed and Balboa, the former in splendour, the latter in poverty.

Once again there are a number of set pieces, from the shopping spree and visit to the zoo, to the church and hospital purgatory, the time in the gym as perdition, penance and finally absolution, the training scenes (much like before only turned up to 11!), and, of course, the fight itself.

Not quite as good as Rocky, but certainly not the kind of brainless trash cash-in that so many sequels to initially good films are (the kind that have made the very idea of sequels so off putting to me). Enjoyable if hammy fun.

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