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Beginning precisely where Rocky left off, the surprisingly effective 1979 sequel takes the saga of Rocky Balboa to its logical next step, as the palooka turned public idol and media darling returns to his "normal" life in Philadelphia with his newlywed bride Adrian (Talia Shire) and some degree of material comfort. He needs to find a job, but boxing champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) is challenging Rocky to a lucrative rematch, and despite his doctor's warning against future boxing, Rocky can't resist. Defying the odds that most sequels can't live up to their originals, Rocky II doesn't pack all the punch that Rocky did, but it takes us further into the lives of its now-familiar and beloved characters, and Stallone (as director and star) gives us another rousing finale in the ring. Do you really need to know who wins? --Jeff Shannon
- 8-page booklet featuring trivia, production notes and a revealing look at the making of the movie
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Set in early 1976, the sequel follows newlywed Rocky and Adrian Balboa's lives over the course of approximately 10-11 months after the Italian Stallion's amazing display of raw determination against the seemingly unbeatable Apollo Creed. While the struggling Balboas experience a limited amount of newfound wealth and the birth of their only child, a resentful Creed is elsewhere seething over the public perception that he must have somehow fixed the big fight because he could not annihilate a supposed chump like Balboa. To Creed's credit, he doesn't fear facing the Italian Stallion once more; rather, he wants to wreak some proper vengeance over the pounding his once-immaculate image has taken. Meanwhile, trainer Mick declines to train Rocky knowing full well that Rocky has likely suffered a career-ending injury to his peripheral vision in one eye. Still, one knows that Creed's constant public goading will inevitably force the Italian Stallion to abandon his unwanted retirement to settle unfinished business in the ring on a fateful Thanksgiving Night.
Give Sylvester Stallone's acting talents credit here: Rocky Balboa is made incredibly believable as a hard-working, not-so-bright Average Joe Palooka whose perennial underdog status touches a nerve in almost everyone who has the tenacity to never give up, no matter what. Stallone's efforts are matched by Talia Shire as introverted Adrian, whose quiet demeanor hides the resolve to ultimately support her husband's dream to the end. Backed by the familiar, vintage Bill Conti score, including the classic anthem, "Gonna Fly Now," the scenes of Rocky's low-tech training, especially another memorable jog through the streets of South Philadelphia to the city's art museum, remain an example of how a film can both entertain viewers and still truly inspire them.
The only inevitable problem with "Rocky II" is that the Rocky-Apollo II clash's outcome becomes a foregone conclusion. Yet, it is also ultimately the reason why viewers bought tickets to see this film. For all participants involved, Rocky's life-changing victory is a most rewarding experience. "Rocky II" delivers the truly graceful ending viewers deserve, and demonstrates why anyone can relate to the Italian Stallion's poignant (and ongoing) saga.
Rating: 8.5/10 (A little slow at times, but it is definitely a sequel worthy of its namesake).
The picture is spectacular, the color, photography, everything is so refreshed even the dialogue; definitely one of history's all time great boxing movies.
Get it and relive the dream of an already american icon.