DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com Awards & Recommendations at Amazon.com.
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Sylvester Stallone
Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Carl Weathers
Writing Credits:
Sylvester Stallone

Rocky struggles in family life after his bout with Apollo Creed, while the embarrassed champ insistently goads him to accept a challenge for a rematch.

Box Office:
$7 million.
Domestic Gross:

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
English Descriptive Audio
French Dolby 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Castillian Dolby 5.1
German Dolby 5.1
Italian Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 119 min.
Price: $59.99
Release Date: 2/28/23

Available as Part of “Rocky Knockout Collection” 4-Movie Set

• None


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X800 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer

Rocky II [4K UHD] (1979)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 8, 2023)

Sometimes it’s not best to give the people what they want, a point that is proved succinctly in Rocky II. (Watch out - potential spoilers ahead!)

Oh, it’s not like the original 1976 Rocky lacked crowd-pleasing elements. In fact, its rousing lack of cynicism may have contributed mightily to its success over the year’s more dour and hard-bitten releases.

Rocky grossed a ton of money, and it also won out at the Oscars, where it topped strong contenders like Network, Taxi Driver and All the President’s Men.

Nonetheless, one aspect of the movie stuck in some people’s craws: Rocky lost the big fight. Many people - myself included - think the current ending feels absolutely appropriate, as it fully supports the old contention that it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. Rocky’s tough stance during this defeat was something of a moral victory as it showed how the little guy can come out okay after all.

Still, although the ending made perfect sense within the film’s context, some folks were disappointed that Rocky didn’t emerge totally victorious. These are the same people who probably feel that 1979’s Rocky II is the better movie of the pair. In fact, it’s vastly inferior to the original, but since it delivers the desired happy finale, some prefer it.

Some have accused Rocky II of being a virtual remake of the original, and those comments aren’t too far off base, though there obviously are quite a few differences. Nonetheless, the sequel tries awfully hard to put Rocky back in the position of hopeless underdog, something it never really achieves.

The early parts of Rocky II feel the most compelling. The movie starts with the conclusion of the prior film, so again we see Rocky’s (Sylvester Stallone) near-victory against boxing champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers).

From there we find out where Rocky’s life goes as he deals with his newfound celebrity. Unfortunately, he quickly runs out of economic options, and since his injured right eye makes it risky for him to box - one wrong punch and he could go blind - it looks like Rocky’s back to being a bum, just like in the first film.

I enjoyed the brief look at Rocky’s flirtation with success. However, once the movie puts him back in the position of underdog, it quickly sinks into a tepid series of clichés.

Clearly writer/director Stallone - who would also helm the following two sequels before Rocky director John G. Avildsen returned for the fifth film - wanted badly to put Rocky back into the role of lovable loser, and the movie strains to do so. It never seems convincing, and no parts of the flick made it work.

Much of the problem stems from the superficial presentation of the main characters. The original film was really about all sorts of people who’d struggled through life and never been able to achieve their goals.

Rocky himself just acted as the stand-in for anyone who’d felt less successful than they’d like to be. Except for champion Creed and his camp, all of the main participants bordered on the dregs of society, and the movie let them stand up for themselves and have their day on top.

Rocky II should have been better able to explore the nuances of these characters. The first movie introduced them, so the sequel should have been able to expand on their personalities.

Instead, they’re all reduced to caricatures of their old selves, and no new dimensions are added. Rocky’s girl Adrian (Talia Shire) is nothing more than a token babe in the sequel, and her brother Paulie (Burt Young) simply redoes his loudmouth shtick from the first movie. Trainer Mickey (Burgess Meredith) loses all humanity and becomes a gruff screamer with no reason to exist other than to shout at Rocky.

As Rocky, Stallone at least keeps within the stumblebum nature of the original character - a tone that would disappear beneath the actor’s vanity in the sequels - but otherwise the sequel’s star has little in common with the original character. Stallone keeps Rocky likeable - another dimension that would disappear in the later sequels - but he lacks the warmth and the charm that we saw in the first film.

Instead, he feels like a cardboard impersonation of the old Rocky. I don’t dislike him, but I don’t really care about him either.

Virtually all of Rocky II seems like a cheap knock-off of the original. They add superior production values and give it a happier ending, but otherwise it’s the same old song and dance, just without equal levels of spirit and conviction.

The climactic fight scene lasts longer than in the first film, but it appears less substantial, as the razzle-dazzle lacks grit and depth. In the original, the bout was a war, but here it’s just a show.

Add to that some plot twists that verge into soap opera territory and you have a less-than-successful sequel. Though make no mistake - Rocky II isn’t a terrible movie.

It offers some entertaining sequences, and it looks quite good when compared to some of the other sequels. However, on the heels of a movie as charming as Rocky, the first sequel is a big disappointment.

Stallone wanted to have his cake and eat it too. The result is a movie that can be interesting but that never becomes fulfilling.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C/ Bonus F

Rocky II appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Though not a dazzling image, the picture largely looked good.

Sharpness usually seemed solid. A few sequences came across as mildly soft, but these were exceptions, as the majority of the film provided a nicely crisp and detailed image.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes seemed to be absent. Grain seemed natural, and only a handful of small print blemishes appeared in this mostly clean image.

Colors seemed fine. The film utilized a fairly restricted palette since the movie’s Philadelphia setting didn’t lend itself to a lot of bright hues, but the tones appeared clean and rich.

Reds especially came across well, as could be noted through some of Adrian’s clothing. HDR offered extra zing to the tones.

Black levels were also pretty deep, a factor witnessed in Rocky’s leather attire, and shadows felt smooth and clear. HDR gave added oomph and depth to whites and contrast. This turned into an appealing presentation.

In terms of soundfield, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Rocky II felt above average for its era. The soundscape appeared modest but acceptable for this kind of film.

The forward spectrum showed decent breadth as music presented fair stereo separation, and minor effects elements spread across the front channels. These resulted in some mild atmospherics that also seemed to blend together in a fairly pleasing manner, but there wasn’t a great deal of life to be heard, at least not until the climactic fight.

That sequence was really the only time that the surrounds played a fairly significant role in the mix. During the bout, the rear speakers added a nice element of involvement as the crowd noise got me into the match. Otherwise the surrounds mostly contributed musical reinforcement and general ambience without a great deal of activity.

Unfortunately, audio quality became an issue due to one major goof: the track played at the wrong pitch. The track offered audio about five percent “lower” than it should be, and that affected everything about it.

This left dialogue as lower than they should be and music that sounded like it was in the wrong key. Effects became less of a distraction, but everything ended up off in terms of pitch.

If you can ignore that, the movie sounded fine. Dialogue seemed mildly thin for the most part, but the speech remained acceptably natural and always came across as intelligible with few elements of edginess to be heard.

Effects also seemed somewhat flat and drab, but they lacked distortion and appeared modestly realistic. Music displayed too much mid-range, though some low-end kicked in from time to time and the track portrayed the score in a reasonably clear manner.

If it’s been at the right pitch, this would’ve been a perfectly acceptable mix for its age. Given the incorrect sound, though, it lost points.

How did the 4K compare to the Blu-ray from 2009? Audio worked worse here due to the pitch problems.

Visuals fared better, as the 4K looked tighter, cleaner and more natural than the lackluster Blu-ray. The improved picture became an enticement but the problematic audio offered a concern that hopefully will get fixed.

No extras appear on the 4K.

A nice mix of bonus features certainly would have made Rocky II more appealing, as the movie itself didn’t do much for me. Oh, it’s a fairly entertaining piece of fluff, but it lacks any form of depth or drama. All it represents is a happier version of the first movie. The 4K UHD provides positive picture but comes with incorrect audio and no bonus materials. Serious fans of the series will want to give Rocky II a look, but otherwise I think it’s not a terribly worthwhile endeavor.

Note that at most retailers, this 4K UHD edition of Rocky II comes only as part of the “Rocky Knockout Collection”. It also includes 4K discs for the first flick and the movie’s subsequent two sequels.

However, Best Buy offers individual releases of all four movies as steelbooks, and these come with Blu-ray copies. In terms of pursestrings, the “Knockout Collection” becomes the most affordable way to get all four films, as it goes for $60 MSRP, whereas each Best Buy steelbook sets you back $30. If you only want one or two of the flicks, though, the steelbooks might satisfy.

To rate this film visit the DVD review of ROCKY II

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main