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Against Apollo, Rocky fought;
Did he win? He did not.
Apollo wants another shot
Since Rocky did so well.
But Adrian wants Rocky just
To take it easy, as discussed.
He promised, so he feels he must
Quit boxing for a spell.
Proposing to his wife-to-be,
He spends his money zealously.
A brand new house that’s far from free
And much more Rocky buys.
Commercials aren’t his cup of tea,
And work grows scarce unluckily.
He’s soon reduced to poverty
And heeds Apollo’s cries.
His trainer Mickey warns the fight
Could make Rock lose his own eyesight
But trains him once again, despite
Rock’s wife’s ignored objections.
When Adrian gives birth unplanned,
She falls into a coma, and
Her husband stays there close at hand,
Affirming his affections.
When she awakes, they see their son;
Although Rock’s training had begun,
He lacked the drive to get it done,
Till she tells him to win.
He trains with Philly’s full support
With workout styles of every sort.
He soon is ready for his sport,
For his match to begin.
He trades blows with Apollo Creed,
Employing his new strength and speed,
Refusing ever to concede,
Though Creed may still prevail.
Yet by the end, their power drains,
And both collapse from all their pains,
But Rocky rises and remains,
The newest champ to hail.

Coming three years after the original hit Rocky, Sylvester Stallone returned to his Oscar-nominated role in this sequel, which was even more of a success. The original Rocky is widely considered one of the greatest sports films ever, but as inspiring as it was, Rocky himself was denied the victory. He deserved another chance, and this film gave it to him in outstanding style.

Stallone himself directed this one, as well as Rocky III and IV, and he had the formula down from the start. We all know the basics: Rocky Balboa must fight his way up to a climactic fight to take down an intimidating foe. Yet the magic of Stallone’s performance is in the details, such as Rocky’s clumsy but endearing manner of speaking and proposing marriage, his desire to provide for his family, his faithful vigil at his sick wife’s bedside, and his request for a pre-fight blessing from his parish priest. Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed remains a formidable foe for Rocky, and his motivations for a rematch are sympathetic, even as he goads and insults Rocky into fighting again. Burgess Meredith and Talia Shire also excel as Mickey and Adrian, though I wish the latter looked a little less awkward and uncomfortable in her interactions with Rocky.

The training sequence, again set to the iconic Rocky theme, is as utterly entertaining as all of them, and its final scene, with Rocky climbing the art museum’s steps along with half of Philadelphia, is probably the best of them all. Rocky II is as predictable as all the Rocky films, but it continues the story of its immortal characters with just the right amount of drama, without resorting to killing off characters like the next two sequels did. It’s a crowd-pleasing knockout of a film sure to leave every viewer smiling by the end.

Best line: (a reporter, after the initial fight) “Rocky, do you think you have brain damage?” (Rocky) “I don’t see any.”

Artistry: 8
Characters/Actors: 9
Entertainment: 8
Visual Effects: N/A
Originality: 6
Watchability: 8
TOTAL: 39 out of 60

Next: #227 – The Legend of Zorro

© 2014 S. G. Liput

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