Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rocky II (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (1979)

Rocky IIThis review refers to the MGM/UA VHS edition of "Rocky II".....

Sylvester Stallone once again, brings us another feel good story in this first of four sequels to "Rocky". Even if you don't like boxing(and yes there are some of us that could do without it), you gotta like these Rocky flicks. This one, with the entire cast reuniting, is nearly as good as the first.

"Rocky II" picks up where "Rocky" left off. Apollo Creed(Carl Weathers) and Rocky(Sylvester Stallone) have beaten each other to a pulp. Apollo, on a split decision, has been declared the champ once again. Poor Rock's injuries are so bad that the Doctors strongly advise him not to fight anymore. He and Adrian(Talia Shire) marry and decide to live a normal life. The Rock tries his hand at acting in commercials, this doesn't work out(not a big surprise there), can't get hired at an office job, and finally ends up working at a meat packing plant where he is promptly laid off. The pregnant Adrian becomes the bread winner and Rocky is feeling very unmanly.

Creed, wanting a re-match, taunts Rocky out into the public and Rocky takes the challenge, against the wishes of Adrian, of course. Mickey(Burgess Meredith), after much coaxing decides to train him, but alas, The Rock's heart is not in it. What will it take for him to be the old Rocky we know and love?

Of course there are the wonderful scenes of Rocky training and getting pumped up for the fight, with all the great "Rocky" music that goes along with it. The intense bout with Creed is outstanding. Can Rocky go the distance this know.....

The lines are priceless...after Rocky gets out of the hospital, a reporter asks.." Hey Rocky, did ya get any brain damage?", and Rocky's answer..."Yo, I don't see any.." There's a ton of those. Oh and don't forget the irrepressible Pauly(Burt Young), he's back too and in rare form!

Now I know, most everybody has seen this, and I didnt really need to tell you what it's about. It's just a little refresher on how good these movies make us feel. I watch them often and always find myself smiling. It's a series to be enjoyed by the whole family(if you haven't seen"Rocky V", don't stress over it) and for future generations to come.

The VHS is a a pretty good picture and the sound is in Dolby Surround(stereo), and also fairly decent.

"Yo Adrian...I DID IT!"(Rocky)......Laurie

"Rocky II" is a worthy sequel, more in line with the subtlety and realistic drama of the first film than the super-heroics of the later sequels (which nevertheless were fun in their own way). Here are a few things I liked about the movie (beware spoilers):

Character-based consequences and outcomes lent credibility to the proceedings. Character and heart helped Rocky "go the distance" in the first film, and kept him on his feet here, too. But, in an intelligent move on the part of the filmmakers, it's made clear that Apollo is still the superior, more skillful fighter and would have won again this time. Apollo's downfall here is that he ignores his trainer's advice to just stay out of Rocky's way in the later rounds and win again on a decision. But, no, Apollo's temper and ego make him get in close and try to go for a knock-out, which of course gives Rocky the opportunity to try for the same thing.

I liked how the movie wasn't afraid to be low key and maybe even a little boring in the earlier going, as we see Rocky struggle with finding employment and living a quiet domestic life following the big fight at the end of the first film. As both the audience and Rocky's wife Adrian eventually comes to realize, however, maybe a quiet, normal life isn't for everyone.

While Apollo plays to the cameras and resorts to some unsavory publicity tricks to lure Rocky back into the ring, he's never reduced to the role of a one-note villain. You can understand why he's frustrated and wants closure after the unfinished business of the first fight. All along, though, an unspoken rapport with Rocky, a level of respect for him, is evident. Apollo's alliance with Rocky in the broader but still very entertaining "Rocky III" is therefore pretty believable, as the groundwork is laid here.

Like the first film, this one has lots of great little moments: Rocky's wince-inducing attempts to film the aftershave commercial, learning to be quick by chasing the chicken around the yard, and his stopping for a quick blessing at the church right before his rematch with Apollo. But the movie knows when a big moment is the thing that's called for, too: witness the great training session with all the kids following Rocky up the Art Museum steps and the numerous great moments during the big fight, for example.

Like the first film, and the Rocky character himself, "Rocky II" has plenty of heart, resulting is a sequel that's worth your time. Pop this into your DVD player (after watching the first film, of course) and sit back and enjoy.

Buy Rocky II (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (1979) Now

Rocky II is the best in the Rocky movie sequels.

Released 3 years after the Oscar winning original Rocky, the movie takes place right after the exciting fight between our hero, Rocky, and the champion of the world Apollo Creed, played by Carl Weathers.

The difference between Rocky in the first and Rocky here is that now Rocky has become famous for going the distance against the champ, recieves a nice chunk of cash for the fight which he spends on a new house and unnecessary clothes and items, and is getting offers to appear in commercials, which he does. However, the fact that he cannot read results in the rejection from the director of the advertisements, rejection from employers to hire him, and his failure to obtain an 'office job'. Rocky finds himself struggling to keep a job, especially after his now wife Adrian, played by Talia Shire, becomes pregnant. Rocky finally returns to work for Mickey, his trainer, in the gym where Rocky has now become 'royalty'.

In the original Rocky, Rocky had to deal with being a nobody struggling to make a voice for himself, in Rocky II, he has to deal with swallowing his pride and keeping his head up despite the lack of a decent job and a humiliating ordeal of holding the bucket for rookie boxers to spit in. In the meantime, the equally proud Apollo will not put up with his fans' harrassments and accusations that the fight against Rocky was fixed and that he has lost his edge. Apollo determines to prove to the world that Rocky going the distance with him was a matter of chance and challenges Rocky to fight him a second time. The rest is history!

Sylvester Stallone's script of Rocky II is equally powerful to that of Rocky, only the thrills are more vibrant in the original. All the actors who lit the screen in Rocky return to the sequel. Director John G. Avildsen, who earned an Oscar for his work on Rocky, does not return. It's none other than Stallone himself who directs this one. He will also go on to direct Rocky III and Rocky IV. Avildsen would return to the director's seat in Rocky V. Stallone does this movie justice.



Read Best Reviews of Rocky II (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (1979) Here

Although the original was a major hit, and won the Oscar for Best Picture, I have always felt that THIS is the one that caused the public to fall in love with the character. It was undeniably the one that cemented Stallone's status as a major motion picture star, and even as a writer and director.

In parts 3 and 4, he placed more emphasis upon the character's athletic prowess and courage. Later, with parts 5 and 6, he endeavored to bring Rocky back down to Earth a bit, with more pedestrian outings, emphasizing the character's humanity.

But it was with Rocky 2 that Stallone got it absolutely right.

I honestly don't believe that there has ever been a depiction of a cinematic hero quite like this one. He embodies characteristics that are often overlooked, both in the world of fiction as well as non-fiction. Balboa is honest, and good-hearted, sometimes to a fault. As both writer and actor, Stallone imbues the character with a simple grace and dignity that I find immensely appealing.

What I mean by that is.......his is not the humility that we so often see in real-life athletes. You know the sort........the kind of guy who will spend 30 minutes regaling you with a speech about how humble he is. The way I see it, if you spend lots of time bragging about how humble you are, well, then, chances are you are not really all that humble.(are you listening, Evander Holyfield?)

If you believe that you cannot craft a film around a noble protagonist, that everything must be drenched in moral ambiguity........well, you won't get much out of this. He is, at his core, a kind man. A nice man. And his virtues are presented unapologetically.

But, then again, if being sweet, in and of itself, made you a great hero, Mr. Rogers would have his own movie series.

Rocky Balboa is like IRON. And this film offers a sense of that.......a sense that is more vivid than perhaps any other film in the series(other than Rocky 4).The training sequence is my personal favorite of all the Rocky films, again with the possible exception of the fourth one. If you prefer finesse, you may like the training montage from part 3 better. But if you like brute power, this is the one for you.

Hammering away at scrap iron with a sledge hammer. Pressing heavy barbells over his head, again and again. Brutal one-armed pushups. Terrific work with the speed and heavy bags. Duck-walking with a heavy log on his back. Even one-armed CHINUPS!!! Tons and tons of situps.......performed while a young training assistant slaps his abs.

And the climactic fight? Apollo's natural athleticism, superior skill, and flamboyant personality......... against Rocky's brute power, granite-like durability, and iron will. It is incredible. They manage to create an entertaining fight, while still maintaining the balance of power from the original. More than ever, this fight makes clear that Apollo is the superior boxer, from a technical standpoint. This notion is emphasized even further by the fact that Rocky has switched to a new, right-handed approach, which he has yet to master, making him even more awkward than usual.

Like the first fight-but more so-this is an epic contest, and is ultimately decided by the thinnest of margins.

So........what else does this film have going for it? Well, I have mentioned Stallone, but the rest of the cast is ideal, as well. Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith........each is perfect in their respective role.

This is the warmest film in the series, with a beautiful wedding night consummation between Rocky and Adrian, as well as the birth of their son.It is also probably the funniest, as well. That moment, right before the big fight, when Apollo barks out, 'you're going down!!'........and Rocky simply nods and smiles wearily.......that is so priceless, because by that time, Apollo has been saying the same thing virtually the entire movie, and it's as if Rocky is echoing the sentiments of the's like, 'okay, i get the point!!'

If I were going to introduce somebody to the Rocky character, and had to recommend one film, it would be Rocky 2. In many respects, I believe that it remains the pinnacle of Stallone's career. He wrote it, directed it, and carried the weight of playing the crucial role in the movie.

I never get tired of this one. There is a sort of magic about it. Rocky is a character who manages to be eloquent........WITHOUT ever being eloquent in the literal sense. His is the eloquence of sincerity. In that scene, where he is telling his wife how badly he wants money, for the sake of his wife and their impending child, so that he can take care of them properly.........he uses the simplest of language, but it is so HEARTFELT. So utterly without pretense. You can just FEEL how much he loves them, and how anguished he is at his failure to provide for them.

There are only so many actors who can convey such brute masculinity, and simultaneously such rich humanity. Stallone is an original, and Rocky 2 may have been his very finest hour.

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Rocky II picks up where the first movie left off. Rocky first tells the media at the hospital he is retiring from boxing despite the champ Apollo Creed's demands he wants a rematch. Rocky then cannot find a good paying job since he does not have the skills for a high paying job. He gets a job at the brother in law meat packing factory but is laid off. His wife is expecting a son. Rocky goes to back to his trainer's gym to work as a janitor. The champ starts a negative campaign to get a rematch with Rocky. Rocky's wife does not her husband back in boxing. Then his wife falls into a coma when her brother gets into an argument with her telling his sister to give Rocky permission to fight again. After Rocky and his trainer pray for her recovery she gives birth to his son and gives her husband the blessing to fight again. Rocky trains for the fight and he steps into the ring with the champ in an epic battle for the ages. It is will be remembered for the line "Yo Adrian I did it."

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