ROCKY II brings South Philly’s luckiest ‘southpaw’ back for a 1979 rematch with ‘Apollo Creed’; Sylvester Stallone pulling triple duty as star, writer and director. The rematch is basically just an excuse for a replay of the schematic from the first movie, which catapulted the sensitive slurring slugger Rocky Balboa into the iconisphere. Fans ate it up, and the $7,000,000 budget (seven times that of Round 1) was left-hooked by a homeland gross of $85,200,000. That saw it come in a red, white, black & blue 5th for the year, with another $115,000,000 KO’d in the Stallion-cheering international ring. Yo.
The pounding bout with Apollo at the finish is decent (punches that would kill a rhino), but this second installment shows Stallone milking the pathos element as bad as Jerry Lewis (Sly’s funnier at least), and it’s blatantly paint-by-numbers, complete with Rousing Training Segment to Bill Conti Music. Really saccharine is the bit where the champ (to be) jogs through Philadelphia followed by hundreds of adoring children (800 of ’em). Okay, okay, we like you already. Just win the fight.
“This place is certainly packed with Rocky’s people. I’ve never seen so many Italians in my whole life!”
Returning cast members and characters are Talia Shire (‘Adrian’ goes into a coma! during childbirth! will she recover and support him even though he might get blinded if he fights?), Burgess Meredith (‘Mickey’ growls but gets with the program), Burt Young (‘Paulie’ yells at Adrian), Carl Weathers (‘Apollo’ taunts Rocky saying he will “drop him like a bad habit”: careful, champ), Tony Burton (‘Duke Ever’s tries to make Apollo stay focused), and Joe Spinell (‘Tony Gazzo’ backs the Rock, because Tony is a loan shark with a heart).
120 minutes (director’s cut runs 142—pass), with Sylvia Meals (Apollo’s wife ‘Mary Anne’), Paul J. Micale, Frank McRae, Brent Musburger, Lou Philippo, Stu Nahan and—as Rocky’s sparring partner—Roberto Duran. Followed by the superior Rocky III.