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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Rocky 2 - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers and Burt Young - Released in 1979

The ‘Italian Stallion’ makes a comeback in the hugely successful Rocky Series; it is directed and written by Stallone and stars him again in the lead as Rocky Balboa - the underdog debt collector turned household name after his fight with Apollo Creed which lasted fifteen rounds!

At the end of Rocky, the two were injured and admitted to hospital - both were not in favor of the match ending in a draw, Apollo offers another chance to Rocky, in a rematch - the latter refuses, and declares his retirement. This decision finds favor with his girlfriend Talia Shire and doctor, who tells him his future maybe plunged into darkness due to a detached retina.

Balboa’s fortune changes - he is now well known and basks in the aftermath of his success; his financial status which was nothing much at first, improves considerably and he decides that he must propose marriage to Adrian - and she accepts the proposal. On the other hand, Apollo Creed is now concerned about his own image ‘There’s still a lot of people out there who think he won, there’s a lot of people out there accusing me of having the fight fixed’ - which is somewhat shadowed by the fact that an unknown fighter should steal his thunder. He starts obsessing over the events in his mind, and wants his team to coax Rocky out of retirement. In a calculated move to besmear Rocky’s career and name, he publicizes the fact that the fight was a ‘fluke’ - that Rocky withstood him for fifteen rounds only because he was just a ‘lucky club fighter’!

Never one to be wise with money, Rocky’s new found fortunes dwindle and he loses his financial security -this event gives Apollo a window of opportunity. Rocky is forced to reconsider a return to the ring, a decision he makes after a meeting with his coach Mickey Goldmill (Burgess Meredith), a former bantamweight boxer who owns a gym. Although Goldmill refuses to support his decision at first – ‘you’ve got the heart, but you ain’t got the tools’, he agrees after Creed throws an insult and a gauntlet on TV, to Rocky.

Things aren’t as smooth on the home front, though, as Adrian is hurt that Rocky is breaking his promise to her and is going back to the ring. As a result, training is tougher on him - he is mentally not there to deal with the physically grueling aspect of his battle in the ring. To make matters worse, his brother-in-law Paulie (Burt Young) is equally upset with Adrian for not being supportive of her husband’s decision – ‘Ditchin’ the guy when he needs your help…he’s going to get hurt because of you’ - this added stress results in her going into labor, the child is born prematurely, and Rocky faces a grim future, as his wife slips into a coma.

When she comes to, she accepts Balboa’s choice to go back into the ring and asks him to win - he is now relieved and gets back into training with renewed gusto. On the day of the fight, Creed promises that Balboa won’t last more than two rounds - he does his damnedest – Rocky is conscious of the injury to his right eye from the first fight and is defensive – not using his southpaw - for he is naturally a left handed boxer. This earns him hard knocks in the ring, to Creed’s delight. However, the underdog lasts fifteen rounds this time, too! Apollo’s team advises him not to go for the knockout, as he is already leading - but he pays no heed, and comes to blows with Rocky like an amateur street fighter.

This change of stance gives Balboa the window of opportunity he has been waiting for - in the fifteenth and final round - Creed gives it all he’s got, going for the knockout - only to be stunned into immobility by the appearance of Balboa’s southpaw! As the arena resounds with shouts of ‘Rocky, Rocky’ - Creed is knocked out - making Balboa the new heavyweight champion of the world!

The film is now considered a cult classic, even though critics described the script to be ‘as predictable as a gym workout’. The appeal of the film lies in its theme of the underdog getting it right every time, only because his intentions are honest and he exudes grace under pressure. A must see!

Rocky 2 - Starring Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers and Burt Young - Released in 1979

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