(This is the second in a series of reviews of the entire Rocky / Rambo sequence)
Oh. My. God. Did it really go this far south this quickly? The first five minutes of Rocky II is its best. You know why? Because it’s a repeat of the fight sequence from the original Rocky. The only thing that’s changed is that the audio has been cranked up a bit so it’s a little easier to hear Creed’s taunts and “no rematch” proclamation, and the theme song now has a disco beat.
The next 90 minutes is a bad hospital drama. First we’ve got both Creed and Rocky in the hospital recovering from their wounds and continuing to taunt each other. Then it’s Adrian in the hospital while Rocky mulls whether he really wants to fight Creed again. Hmmm… I wonder what he’ll do… Maybe he’ll go back to being the heavy for his former loan-shark boss, or maybe he’ll take a million dollars to fight one more time. (I wonder if even Stallone believed at this point that II would be the only sequel.)
The problem with Rocky II is that it acts as if its most probable event — the rematch — is its least probable.
The truly improbable stuff — the idea that an advertiser would give up on an athlete’s sponsorship offer because he’s inarticulate, or that Rocky would take a job in a meat warehouse, or that the warehouse (the same warehouse that paid $3,000 for an ad on his robe in the first fight) would then lay off its star employee, or that Adrian’s no-good brother would turn into a sweetheart (and lose 50 pounds!), or that Adrian would wake from a coma, smile and tell Rocky to go win — is treated as if it’s inevitable.
Most improbable of all is the fight itself. Creed is absolutely crushing Rocky through 14 rounds, but Rocky’s got a secret weapon: he’s been faking fighting as a right-hander the entire fight (why didn’t he unleash his trick in, say, round 7 or 8?). Finally, at the outset of the final round, his manager tells him to switch back to his natural, southpaw stance. But Rocky refuses, because he wants to beat Creed fair and square. (Wha? He’s a natural lefty, and Creed knows it. Switching back isn’t trickery, and not switching back is nothing short of stupidity.) Meanwhile all Creed needs to do is back off and he’ll have an easy victory, but he refuses, because he wants to knock Rocky out. Then things start to get even sillier. Both fighters knock each other to the ground simultaneously! Now the heavyweight championship of the world has turned into a standing-up contest: whoever stands up, wins! And you’ll never guess who stands up!
A couple notes on the Stallone-fest. We’re already behind schedule — we were supposed to watch two movies last night, but it being a school night, we decided against it. We might get two movies in tomorrow, but Jim’s got a lacrosse game the next morning, so we still might not make it. The difficulty in completing the challenge hasn’t so much been stamina, but rather, scheduling. It could be a long weekend!