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Directed and written by Sylvester Stallone. Produced by Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler. Release date: June 15, 1979.
After making more than 200x its budget worldwide, it only made sense for Rocky to get a sequel. So, just three years later, Rocky II was released, this time With a bigger budget and the primary cast returning. Like with real boxing, it was promoted as a rematch between two men who put on a show for the ages. Rocky vs. Apollo Creed #2 was about to be shown...
Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone): A previously unknown boxer who went toe-to-toe with the World Heavyweight Champion.
Adrian Pennino (Talia Shire): Rocky's love interest, who now becomes his wife. Returns from Rocky and continues to appear in the next three films.
Paulie Pennino (Burt Young): Adrian's brother and Rocky's friend. Returns in future movies.
Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers): The film's antagonist. The current World Heavyweight Champion. Won by split decision against Rocky in the first film. Returns in future movies.
Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith): A former boxer. Owns the local gym. Becomes Rocky's trainer. Returns in Rocky III.
After a grueling match against Apollo Creed, Rocky Balboa finds himself so injured that he decides to retire from the world of boxing. With his take of the fight, he marries Adrian and lives in relative luxury - at least, for a little while. His earnings eventually run out, and he struggles with finding employment. Meanwhile, Creed attempts to goad him into a rematch, which Rocky begins to seriously contemplate thanks to his recent woes with money.
Despite doctors suggesting against it, and Adrian not wanting him to, Rocky begins training for another fight. Adrian, now pregnant, finds herself into a coma after having a fight with her brother and having her child prematurely. Rocky stays at her bedside the entire time she's in the coma. When she awakens, and sees her child, she gives Rocky permission to have a rematch with Creed. Rocky trains, but knows that he has to fight by leading with his weaker hand in order to protect his injured eye.
Creed has made it clear that he wants to knock out Rocky instead of winning on points. He tries to do so for 15 full rounds, just like the first time, but Rocky refuses to give up. In the 15th round, Rocky lands a solid blow that knocks Creed off his feed, but Rocky falls, too. Both men try to reach their feet before the 10 count. Rocky manages to just at the last second, winning the fight and becoming the new World Heavyweight Champion.
Is It Any Good?
Rocky II is an improvement over the first film in one area: the boxing scenes. The fight is more impactful, the cinematography is crisper, and they do a much better job of actually boxing than in the first film. Sylvester Stallone took over as director for this film - and would remain so for three of the next four installments - and he proved a major success in the most pivotal moments. The story is, at times, kind of lame, and much of it feels like a retread from the first film, but it's still quite fun, and it's not like anyone would have gotten tired of Rocky as a character yet. That comes later.