Rocky II: Eat Lightning. Crap Thunder.

  • Written and Directed by Sylvester Stallone
  • June 15, 1979 (US)

With trouble adjusting to a life without boxing and Creed demanding a rematch, Rocky finds himself stepping back into the ring.

Rocky II is a very human character driven story that rather than focusing on the excitement that can be found in a boxing ring focuses on the drama and trials that occur outside of it. The story is not about action or excitement but a drama about life and an underdog trying to win in some way or just feel like a whole human being.

These are people living a life. Those in this film feel real and are more of the Average Joe than you get in most any drama. This is a story of the individual struggling and winning because they stand up to the challenge. Triumph does not come from winning but from giving all. Actually succeeding is a bonus.

After tasting success Rocky (Sylvester Stallone-duh!) finds his life is really no different than it was before. He’s only gotten a few steps away from where he had been at for so long and you can tell from the start that it’s eating at him. He thought fighting Creed would lead to so much more. But a lack of education and not being that smart leaves the steppingstone he was given pretty much useless.

Stallone has genuine talent, but he made his name and money largely with action films that lacked depth and didn’t require him to use any ability. They were good but failed to showcase his ability. Here he creates a sympathetic individual who is doing his best but can’t quite seem to provide and feel like a man. Boxing is it and as a person of his word he is unwilling to break his word to Adrian (Talia Shire).

The relationship between Rocky and Adrian is real and genuine but I am also left with a little bit of feeling that she is using him as a white knight in shining armor for her. As much as she loves him he also took her away from Paulie (Burt Young) and the abuse she took from him. That is not so much said but implied by her actions and her words. Shire became Adrian and managed to get that across.

But there is real feeling between Rocky and Adrian that translates to the audience. Stallone and Shire had great chemistry. We believe their moments together. They support each other and Rocky is incredibly devoted to this woman. She is the star that guides him and his reason for everything. Rocky finds motivation and strength to do his best when he’s with her. It really wasn’t until she came along that he got his stuff together and tried for the brass ring.

Rocky is a little bit more of a well-rounded, well fleshed out character than I have seen in other movies over the years. He even had clearly has a religion as he is Catholic enough that he asked his local priest for a blessing before the final fight. It is a small thing that adds depth to the story and character.

Not only does Stallone craft a great performance in this movie but he wrote and directed a great movie. Rocky II is a very rare sequel that is just as good as the original. It has much of the same energy and strength that the first Rocky film had. And I am so upset at times that Stallone, while he did give us many enjoyable action films, could’ve given us great dramas with strong characters like this. 

Rocky’s last fight having ended in a split decision and even though he came out as a people’s champion, it left doubt in not only his mind but in the minds of others if he was truly worthy. It is enough that Rocky has to prove to himself but prove to everyone else that he is a winner. It’s a very human moment and feeling to have.

Mickey (the great Burgess Meredith) in his brutal honesty is unintentionally funny. He gives truth to Rocky with no filter. He is the father figure to make this boy into a man against his will. You should dislike Mickey, but Meredith makes this scrappy, foulmouthed man rather charming. What is said and done is committed with love because he cannot stand to see this greatness wasted.

Ultimately though despite the risk Rocky proceeds into the fight for many of the right reasons while Apollo (Carl Weathers) proceeds into it on the wrong reasons. Creed believes he is the best and nobody is better. He is seeking to prove that to the world and show off at the same time. He seeks to gloat and crush Rocky so that he can never rise again.

As a movie villains go Apollo Creed is quite possibly a good one if not one of the best. He is the mirror opposite of Rocky. Another reason for the resonance of this film. Philosophically speaking our two sides are complete opposites. There is a clear difference between them rather than them being variations on a theme. Hero and villain should be philosophically opposed as makes the outcome of the conflict that much more significant.

Rocky II is as much a morality tale as it is a well-done sports drama. The lesson is to proceed in life the right way by doing things for the right reasons. Be a good person and you will come out on top even if you fail. 

During the final fight the tide shifts back and forth. This climactic battle, even though you know how it turns out, keeps you on the edge of your seat with the ebbs and flows. You find yourself brought to your feet by the action and the music and the performances. This is exciting as if it were real making this a movie that is as good the first time as it is 100th time.

Rocky II is a rare sequel that at the minimum equals its predecessor. There is heart and emotion and excitement and depth equal to the original. This is something that every fan of movies should see!

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

3 thoughts on “Rocky II: Eat Lightning. Crap Thunder.

  1. Yeah regards the films coming out on 4K UHD soon, I’ll likely buy Rocky 1 and 2, as they are a great double. Not sure if I’ll stretch to buying the third and fourth films, unless I get the craving for cheesy 80s goodness.

    Like

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