The original Rocky movie isn’t just regarded as one of the best boxing-themed movies of all time, but also one of the best sports films ever. Its legacy was cemented after scooping the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director in 1977,
Due to the runaway success of the flick, it was only natural that a sequel would follow, and in 1979 that is exactly what happened. While Rocky II didn’t secure the accolades of its predecessor, it was a highly rated movie in its own right. As of today, it holds a place on IMDb’s list of the top 50 sports-related films of all time.
The question is: What makes Rocky II a great sequel?
It doesn’t change the formula
Based on research completed by Betway, in terms of its structure, Rocky II is very much in the same mould as the original film. You start with the backstory as the foundation; then there’s the struggle, training sequences, and finally the fight to round off proceedings.
This might be seen as an overly safe choice, but it’s a formula that works. As the saying goes, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
A hero worth supporting
As established in the first movie, Rocky Balboa is a lovable character that viewers want to support. What he lacks in book smarts and refinement, he more than makes up for with his kind-hearted nature.
His love for Adrian best evidences this. When his wife falls into a coma, Rocky stays by her bedside instead of training. So, when she finally wakes up and utters a single word to Rocky – “Win” – it’s not just the boxer who feels a rush of motivation – it’s also the audience.
Of course, any hero needs a worthy villain to go up against, and Creed plays the role to a tee. He’s a multi-faceted character who isn’t ‘evil’, yet his constant goading of Rocky ensures viewers want to see him fall during their fight.
Okay, boxing aficionados are not going to view the fight action as being all that realistic. Yet for the average viewer, the rematch between Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed delivers a thrilling spectacle that matches any real-life tussle they’ve seen on TV.
Plus beyond the actual contest, you have a story which supplies a healthy dose of realism. You have Rocky, suddenly thrust into the spotlight and with more money than he has ever earnt, struggles to deal with the changes. On the other side, you have Creed, who after feeling embarrassed that an unknown underdog pushed him to the wire, is hell-bent on getting revenge.
Throw in Adrian’s disagreement about Rocky fighting again, a troubled pregnancy, financial issues and more, and you have a story that is grounded in reality from different angles.
A triumphant finish
With all of the build-up across two films, Rocky II couldn’t possibly finish without Rocky winning in the end. Even if it is a predictable conclusion to the story, it doesn’t make it any less satisfying.
The ending sequence also ensures the audience is kept on the edge of their seat. After 14 completed rounds, Creed only needed to stay on his feet in the last round to win the bout. Yet his pride takes over, and he wants to end the contest with a knockout. This plays into Rocky’s hands and, in the final seconds, both boxers end up on the canvas. Apollo cannot beat the referee’s count and, after getting up at nine, Rocky is declared the champion.
The finishing touch is the immortal line Rocky has for his wife: “Yo, Adrian, I did it!”