Rocky II is a 1979 American sports drama film written, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone. It is the sequel to the 1976 film Rocky, and was the last installment in the film series that was distributed solely by United Artists.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sylvester Stallone|
|Written by||Sylvester Stallone|
|Music by||Bill Conti|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Box office||$200.1 million|
Stallone, Carl Weathers, Tony Burton, Burgess Meredith, Burt Young and Talia Shire reprised their original roles. The Ring magazine heavyweight championship belt makes its first appearance in the series. Released on June 15, 1979, the film was followed by Rocky III in 1982.
On New Year's Day in 1976, world heavyweight boxing champion Apollo Creed has successfully defended his title in a split decision against challenger Rocky Balboa. He and Rocky are taken to the same hospital. Apollo challenges Rocky to a rematch, but Rocky declines and retires from professional boxing. His girlfriend, Adrian, supports his choice, and so do his doctors, who reveal that he will require surgery for a detached retina, a condition that could lead to permanent blindness. In a private moment, Rocky goes to see a recuperating Apollo, and wants a truthful response to his question of whether Apollo gave his all in the fight; Creed confirms that he did. After Rocky is released from the hospital, he enjoys the benefits of his life's changes: Rocky's new fame attracts an agent who sees Rocky as a potential endorsement and sponsorship goldmine, and his sudden wealth encourages him to propose to Adrian. She happily accepts, and they marry in a small ceremony. Soon after, Adrian reveals that she is pregnant.
Meanwhile, fueled by hate mail, Apollo becomes obsessed with the idea that a rematch is the only way to prove that Rocky's performance was simply a fluke. Determined to rectify his boxing career's only blemish, Apollo ignores all pleas by his friends and family to forget the fight, and move on to other potential opponents, and instead demands his team do whatever necessary to goad Rocky out of retirement and have a rematch with him.
Rocky, at first, seems unaffected by Apollo's smear campaign, but his inexperience with money causes him to run into financial problems. After several unsuccessful attempts to find employment, Rocky visits Mickey Goldmill, his trainer and manager, at his gym to talk about the possibility of returning to boxing. At first, Mickey declines, concerned about Rocky's health, but he soon accepts after Apollo publicly insults Rocky. Adrian confronts Rocky about the danger of returning to boxing and reminds him of the risk to his eyesight. Rocky argues that he knows nothing else, so this is the only way he can provide. Adrian, furious at Rocky for breaking his promise, refuses to support him.
Rocky and Mickey begin training, but Rocky's mind is not fully set due to Adrian's disapproval. Adrian's brother, Paulie, confronts his sister about not supporting her husband, but she faints during the confrontation, and is rushed to the hospital, where she goes into labor. Despite being premature, the baby is healthy, but Adrian falls into a coma. Rocky blames himself for what happened, refusing to leave Adrian's bedside until she wakes up, and will not go to see his new baby until they can see it together. When Adrian comes out of her coma, she finds Rocky by her bedside, and the couple are shown their new baby, a boy, which they name Robert "Rocky Jr." Adrian gives her blessing to the rematch, and Rocky quickly gets into shape for the match.
On Thanksgiving, the night of the match, Apollo makes a public goal of beating Rocky in no more than two rounds to prove the first match going the full fifteen rounds was a fluke. Rocky, fighting right-handed to protect his eye instead of his natural southpaw, is knocked down twice by Creed and outclassed for much of the fight. As with their first fight, this match goes the full fifteen rounds, by which time Creed is well ahead on points and only needs to stay away from Balboa to win the fight by decision. However, Creed, not wanting the fight to end like it did the first time, ignores his trainer's pleas to stay back and attempts to beat Rocky by knockout. In the final round, Rocky switches back to his natural stance, and in dramatic fashion, unleashes a series of counter punches on Creed, turning the tide. Both men, exhausted, trade punches until they knock each other down. Apollo gets up on the ropes early while Rocky is on the canvas and has to make his way over. Rocky is able to will himself up on 9 while Apollo collapses from exhaustion, giving Rocky the win by knockout, making him the new heavyweight champion. Rocky then gives an impassioned speech to the crowd and holds the belt over his head with a message for his wife, who is watching the fight on TV: "Yo, Adrian, I did it!"
- Sylvester Stallone as Robert "Rocky" Balboa, Sr., "The Italian Stallion": the underdog who was given one chance at winning the heavyweight championship from Apollo Creed in the first film. Due to the public's belief that it was very possible that Rocky could have won, he gets a second shot at the title in this film.
- Talia Shire as Adrian Balboa: Rocky's love interest-turned-wife. During labor, with their first son, she enters a coma for a large portion of the film.
- Burt Young as Paulie Pennino: Rocky's best-friend-turned-brother-in-law
- Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed: The current world heavyweight champion who gave Rocky a shot at the title in the first film, during which he won by split-decision. Because of the close outcome of the fight the general public believes that Apollo did not necessarily win, and thus he gives Rocky a second chance in a rematch.
- Burgess Meredith as Mickey Goldmill: Rocky's friend, manager and trainer; a former bantamweight fighter from the 1920s and the owner of the local boxing gym.
- Tony Burton as Tony "Duke" Evers: Apollo's father-figure, friend, trainer, and manager.
- Sylvia Meals as Mary Anne Creed: Apollo Creed's wife.
- Seargeoh Stallone as Robert "Rocky" Balboa, Jr.: Rocky and Adrian's newborn child. Seargeoh appeared in the film uncredited.
- Joe Spinell as Tony Gazzo: Loan shark and Rocky's former employer.
- Paul J. Micale as Father Carmine: Rocky's priest.
Jeff Temkin portrays the ring announcer. Appearing as themselves are referee Lou Filippo and commentators Brent Musburger, Stu Nahan and Bill Baldwin. LeRoy Neiman makes an uncredited non-speaking cameo appearance during the training scenes in the film; he is shown drawing a picture of Apollo while he is training.
After the enormous success of the first Rocky, the producers were anxious to make a sequel. Stallone again wrote the script, originally titled Rocky II: Redemption, but John G. Avildsen declined to direct again because he was busy with pre-production on Saturday Night Fever. Stallone wanted the job and waged as big a campaign as he had for the lead role in the previous film. United Artists executives were reluctant to give the actor the directing reins because, while he had previously directed the drama Paradise Alley, it was not a success. However, producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff understood how much of the success of the first Rocky had come from Stallone's enormous input and lobbied hard to get him the job.
The story development of involving Rocky surprising Creed by switching to fighting right-handed was not in the original script and only came about because of an accident onset. While getting in shape for the film, Stallone ripped his left pectoral muscle during a bench pressing contest with bodybuilder Franco Colombu and needed surgery. Therefore, he could not fight with his left hand.
The film's ending fight sequence also posed a challenge because at the time Talia Shire was busy making the drama Old Boyfriends and couldn't be on the set. So Stallone came up with the idea of having her watch the fight from home because of the new baby. Adrian's scenes were actually filmed some months later, toward the end of the shoot.
|Soundtrack album by|
|Label||United Artists Records – LP |
EMI Manhattan Records – CD
Just as in the previous installment, Bill Conti composed the film's music. A soundtrack album containing Conti's score was released on August 25, 1979, and charted on the Billboard 200 for five consecutive weeks.
- "Redemption" – 2:34
- "Gonna Fly Now" – 2:35
- "Conquest" – 4:42
- "Vigil" – 6:31
- "All of My Life" – 3:56
- "Overture" – 8:38
- "Two Kinds of Love" – 2:37
- "All of My Life" – 2:27
- Bill Conti – piano (1)
- Mike Lang – piano (8)
- David Duke – horn solo (4)
- Frank Stallone – vocals (7)
- DeEtta Little, Nelson Pigford – vocals (5)
|US Billboard 200||147|
Rocky II holds a 72% approval rating on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes; out of 29 reviews, the average rating is 6.5/10. The site's consensus reads: "Rocky II is a movie that dares you to root again for the ultimate underdog – and succeeds due to an infectiously powerful climax."
Janet Maslin of The New York Times wrote that the film "has a waxy feeling, and it never comes to life the way its predecessor did." Variety wrote, "In its boxing and training scenes Rocky II packs much of the punch the original did, complete with an exciting pugilistic finale that's even better than its predecessor. However, in an attempt to tell the new story—that of Rocky's adjustment to near-success and an attempt to live a non-boxing life—the plot tends to drag and the picture takes on a murky quality." Gene Siskel gave the film three-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "What is most remarkable about Rocky II is that it recalls so many scenes from the original film, which is only three years old and was shown on national television last fall, and yet—amazingly—it all works. Almost every bit of it." Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "Rocky II does not merely exploit the original, it extends it logically and grippingly, preserving all the traits of character (and of movie character) that made Rocky I work so well—those notions that ordinary people are worth knowing about, that love is the surpassing emotion in our lives and that some things are worth struggling hard for, even if there may only be the honor of the struggle to show in the end." Gary Arnold of The Washington Post wrote that the film "slavishly repeats the plot of Rocky, achieving differentiation only in dubious forms: soap opera detours, delaying tactics and an ugly new mood of viciousness surrounding a rematch between the boxers."
The film won Best Picture at the American Movie Awards and won the People's Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture. Dre Rivas of Film.com included it in his list of top ten films of 1979.
Rocky II finished in the top three highest-grossing films of 1979, in both the North American market and worldwide. The film grossed $6,390,537 during its opening weekend, $85,182,160 at the U.S. box office, and $200,182,160 overall.
Rocky II returned to UA 75% of Rocky's rentals in the United States and Canada ($42 million vs. $56 million) when the rule of thumb at the time was that a sequel would only do 30% to 40% of the business of its predecessor.
- "Rocky II, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved January 27, 2012.
- "Rocky II". TCM database. Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved February 27, 2016.
- Maslin, Janet (1979-06-15). "Screen: 'Rocky II' Fights a Rematch: Second Stanza..." (Subscription required). The New York Times.
- "Filmtracks: Rocky II (Bill Conti)". Filmtracks. 15 December 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
- Rocky II (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – Bill Conti – Awards. Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Accessed on August 9, 2013.
- "Rocky II Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
- Maslin, Janet (June 15, 1979). "Screen: 'Rocky II' Fights a Rematch". The New York Times. C14.
- "Film Reviews: Rocky II". Variety. 14.
- Siskel, Gene (June 15, 1979). "Rocky II doesn't pull any emotional punches". Chicago Tribune. Section 3, p. 1.
- Champlin, Charles (June 17, 1979). "'Rocky II': A Winning Rematch". Los Angeles Times. Calendar, p. 35.
- Arnold, Gary (June 15, 1979). "'Rocky II': Down For the Count". The Washington Post. B1.
- "Alan Alda, Sally Field Earn Outstanding Acting Awards". Toledo Blade. Associated Press. February 12, 1980. p. P2.
- "Rocky II (1979)". The New York Times. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
- Rivas, Dre (June 8, 2007). "The 10 Best Movies of 1979". Film.com. Film.com. Archived from the original on December 10, 2008. Retrieved June 11, 2010.
- "Movie Rocky 2 – Box Office Data, News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Nash Information Services. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
- "Rental Champs Rate of Return". Variety. December 15, 1997. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
- Pollock, Dale (October 17, 1979). "Year's Number One Grosser Punches A Hole in Theory Covering Sequels & Wickets". Daily Variety. p. 1.
- "Rocky II (Book, 1979)". [WorldCat.org]. 2016-05-11. Retrieved 2016-12-10.