Chicken Chaser

Rocky II no longer feels like an underdog movie – not in story, rather as a movie. The first Rocky’s quiet, even sorrowful grit disappears. The fictional Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) now has money and fame, plus a real world film studio more confident in what became a franchise. Rocky II enhances its brightness, amps up the sound, and reaches for bolder action.

Yet, Rocky II spends time on its dramatic angle, Balboa’s now wife Adrian (Talia Shire) falling into a coma after giving birth, Balboa never leaving her side. While the timeline lacks coherence (leaving Balboa no genuine training hours just 10 months after the first brawl), the ability to knock the hero down logically and let him rise feels different, even if the flow matches Rocky beat-for-beat.

Rocky II details a man of pure action and instinct

Whether this sequel does anything new isn’t necessarily relevant. Rocky II shows more of Balboa’s personality, a slightly dim-witted, easily exploited Philadelphia boxer who is a constant joy to be around. Even with a mauled face, he’s a determined champion whose wonky sense of humor creates one of cinema’s enduring characters.

Plus, Rocky II still highlights its grand Americana, if in less subtle ways than the predecessor. Training for the fight, “Flying High” reaching its crescendo on the soundtrack, Balboa is swarmed by kids following – literally – in his footsteps. That inspiration captures the original’s nuance, and what it did to the surrounding culture. Watching Balboa run, the kids smile with glee, burning off their energy as they see their own potential future. Balboa doesn’t need to speak. In fact, he’s rather terrible at it. Instead, Rocky II details a man of pure action and instinct.

Returning to fight Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers), little has changed other than snippets from Creed’s luxurious home life. He’s still an arrogant showman, and to keep audiences satisfied, Rocky II can only end one way. What a joy it is to watch though, even without the organic intensity and creative spark evident in the first movie. The formula, effectively stolen from martial arts cinema then re-branded red, white, and blue, works for a reason. People kept coming back for that reason too – Balboa the human is too much fun to miss.

Video

A passable effort from Warner greets viewers. Of particular note is a hefty, buzzy grain structure the encode struggles to keep up. Brighter parts of the screen show chroma noise more often than not. The off-color blocking can turn snow blue and pink-ish in the early going, diminishing the overall impact.

The scan itself looks fine, if a bit duller than most 4K masters. Warner doesn’t note if this comes from a modern/recent scan or not, but based on what shows on screen, it’s unlikely. Rocky II doesn’t look awful so much as natural without a refreshed touch. Print damage likewise indicates it’s been a while since Rocky II saw a touch up.

Color stands out at least, peppier than Rocky by a wide margin. Primaries glow, especially in the ring with the endless yellows to draw from. Intense contrast receives help from Dolby Vision, boosting the depth substantially. Black levels hold their end gorgeously.

Audio

DTS-HD serves the audio well enough, dated as the source material may be. Dialog holds a roughened edge that isn’t unusual for the era. A little muffling dampens things too. Oh well.

Surrounds activate only when needed, and that’s during the crowded arenas (mostly). Those fill every available speaker without trouble, extending the soundstage from the original mono perfectly. Inside the meat factory, machinery whirls in the rears and stereos. Bass holds back for the music, adding a mild bump with the beat.

Extras

All bonuses reside on an extras disc inside the box set, and nothing is inherently specific to Rocky II.

Rocky II
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
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Movie

A successful follow-up that tracks the money and fame, Rocky II logically extends this boxing storyline.

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User Review
2.5 (2 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 45 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD:


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