- Movie Rating -

Rocky II (1979)

| June 15, 1979

Most sequels to successful films are just running a victory lap.  They aren’t necessary and largely they just repeat the same formula in order to cash in on a familiar name.  Rocky II is different in that it isn’t so much a sequel as it is a continuation.  Yes, the movie has the same fight at the end with Apollo Creed and there’s the inevitable training sequence, but there’s so much more to this film then just getting to the fight.

Stallone obviously loves this character and his world.  He loves relationship that he has with Adrian and the relationship he has with his friends.  He especially as a great love for letting us see what happens to him.  Rocky II opens only a few hours after the fight at the end of the first Rocky and already questions of a rematch are floating in the air.  Rocky says no, but Apollo, of course, is willing to finish the fight right there in the hospital corridor – aside from his bruises and contusions, the biggest injury is to his pride.

Rocky is through with boxing (uh-huh) and his life is perfect.  He and Adrian get married, buy a house and soon after, she is pregnant.  The cash payout from the fight quickly dries up and Rocky takes one job after another until a job placement worker casually asks “Hey, why don’t you fight?”  The pull is there, both for Rocky and for Apollo.  Soon it will all converge.

But if I said that Rocky II was only equal to the fight at the end, the movie wouldn’t be worth much.  Both Rocky and Rocky II place boxing as ending destination, but not as a story arc.  The story arc is the life of this club fighter from Philly with a small brain, a big heart and a lot of infectious personality.  His relationship with Adrian, their budding romance in the first film and journey of the two of them trying to build a life together in the second are so much more powerful than any romance in any movie that I can remember. 

I see relationships in movies all the time that are all words, devoid of genuine feeling or substance, but when Rocky proposes to Adrian in front of the tiger environment at the zoo in this movie, it’s a pure moment, a genuine moment. You feel that you’ve been through the relationship that has arrived at this moment.  The best thing that I can say about this movie is that when he proposes to her, it is as much an emotional impact as the final round of the fight at the end.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.